In my favorite poem by Robert Frost, Nothing Gold Can Stay, he reminds us that like the seasons of nature, life is one season melting into another, and quickly fading away. This is my attempt to document each season in my life and my family.

Goodbye, 2016!

Filed under: Abby Jo,Elijah,Family,General,Hailey,Holidays,Home,Kids,Kyra,Logan,Love,Matthew,Me,Owen,Photos,Trips — Rachel at 4:17 pm on Saturday, December 31, 2016

Wow! Time really flies. It’s hard to believe 2016 is already over. It’s been a pretty great year for me and my family. We’ve spent a lot of wonderful times together, accomplished some really big goals, and received some huge answers to prayer.

One of the biggest events of the year happened in March. We bought a new house and moved to Knoxville. It took several months for our house in Harriman to sell, but I know it was all in God’s timing. Everything worked out perfectly for us financially, and we moved into our new home the day after we had Elijah, Abby, and Logan’s birthday party . . . so we had a lot of helping hands. Our new home and neighborhood have been a perfect fit for us. The house is  two-and-a-half stories, five bedrooms, four bathrooms and has a big bonus room for the kids, an office for Matt, and a huge backyard. So, it’s perfect for our family of eight! As a bonus, we have great neighbors on both sides of us, and the neighborhood has a big pool and sidewalks on both sides of the street. There are lots of kids around us, both in our neighborhood and the one behind us. Hailey has friends from school that live in the neighborhood behind us who walk over to play with her. It’s been great. We are so very thankful for the home the Lord provided for us. It reduced Matt’s commute to work by about twenty-five minutes. Now, he drops the little kids off at school on his way to work, and he gets to come home and have lunch with me on most days.

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I mentioned we moved right after three of the kids’ birthdays. Elijah turned 12 on March 25, and Abby and Logan turned 7 on March 26.

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Kyra and Owen’s birthdays were in June, and we celebrated with a big pool party. Kyra turned 14, and Owen turned 10.

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Hailey celebrated her 9th birthday in October. (For some reason, I can’t find a picture of her with her cake.)

We were super blessed to be able to take the family on another beach vacation to Panama City Beach, Florida back at the end of July through the beginning of August. We took our first family vacation to the same place back in 2014 right after we got married. We enjoyed it so much we chose to go back. This time, we took Mammy, Grammy, and Aunt Whitney with us. We all had a wonderful time and returned just in time for the kids to start school the next day.

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Professionally, Matt got a new position with the Army Reserves and transferred from his old unit near Cincinnati, to his new unit in Washington, D.C. He is now working with the Army Corps of Engineers. It’s not any closer to home, but he at least gets to fly now instead of having to make that long drive to Northern Kentucky. I got to go with him back in August. It was my first visit to D.C., and I really enjoyed seeing everything, even if I did most of my sightseeing solo, since Matt was working. We’re hoping to take all the kids to D.C. in the coming year.

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I did well with my writing pursuits in 2016. I published Little River: Vol 2 in August, and I had multiple publications for my short fiction in literary journals. I had five or so book signings over the course of the year, as well as being accepted into the Author’s Guild of Tennessee. There’s other news to share on the writing front, but I’ll save that for a future date. No contracts have been signed yet. (Wink, wink!)

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In September, God answered our biggest prayer and gave us sole custody of Hailey and Logan. I won’t go into any details, but I just want to give God all the glory. He told us in no uncertain terms over and over and over throughout the course of the year that He was fighting that battle for us. It brought great peace to all of us, and the kids are happy, healthy, and thriving. God is so good!

We had a lovely holiday season and got to spend time with our families.

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Halloween

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Thanksgiving

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Christmas

I could have inundated this post with photos, but these few will have to do. If you want to see more photos from our day to day lives and you are a friend of mine (either in real life or online), you should friend me on Facebook. That is where I am most active. I don’t add people I don’t know on Facebook, but I do have a public Twitter account where I occasionally post photos. Please feel free to follow me there.

I hope 2016 was as good to you and your family as it was to me and mine, and I hope 2017 is even better for all of us!

Happy New Year, Friends!

It’s Been A While

Filed under: Abby Jo,Elijah,Family,General,Hailey,Kids,Kyra,Logan,Owen — Rachel at 1:15 pm on Monday, October 24, 2016

It’s been a long time since I’ve felt like I could blog freely. About three years. The reason for that is gone now, and I’m itching to get back to blogging semi-regularly. I know I’ve said that a dozen times over the last three years, but, because of a recently answered prayer, our circumstances have changed and I feel free to write about my life and family again. So, here we go with an update post!

In a nutshell . . . things are great! Everyone is happy and healthy. What more can we ask for?

To be a little more specific . . . here’s a person by person run-down:

  • Matt – He’s working hard as always and taking good care of all of us. He recently switched Army jobs and left the unit he has been with for several years and went to a new one. We are really happy he doesn’t have to make that awful drive to Cincinnati every month anymore. That was getting really old. His new unit isn’t any closer to home . . . he’s now with the Army Corps of Engineers and drills in Washington, D.C. . . . but at least now he gets to fly and his travel is all paid for. His first D.C. drill was in August, and I got to go with him! While he went to work, I got to go sightseeing. I had never been before, so it was a lot of fun for me. He’s also coaching the kids’ soccer teams.
  • Me – The whole mom life keeps me hopping, but I know I’ve got it made. With the kids all in school during the day, I have lots of time alone. I’m trying to get into a better writing routine. I thought it would be a lot easier, but this school year has been so incredibly busy! It started out with a ton of events at their schools, and it seems like there’s always a doctor or orthodontist appointment, someone forgetting their lunch box, or some other errand that has me out running around instead of writing at home. Running a household is a lot of work; there’s so many moving pieces. I love my family so much, though, and I truly wouldn’t have it any other way. (Unless I had a housekeeper. I would have it that way!) So, new writing has been kind of slow, but things have been going really well with my already completed writing. Little River: Vol 2 came out in early September. That was very exciting for me. It is still being published weekly in it’s original serialized format in a local newspaper. I’ve already started working on Vol 3. I’ve had several book signings over the summer and done really well at a lot of them. I have one more coming up next Friday, and then I’ll have a long break between it and the next one I have scheduled in February 2017.
  • Kyra – It’s hard to believe she’s already in high school. For those of you who have followed this blog for a long time, you’ve watched her grow up! She’s fourteen, as tall as me, and a super great kid. She’s doing really well in school. She has taken to high school and really loves it. She goes to one of the best high schools around, and it offers a plethora of opportunities. She had no trouble making friends after our move, and she’s generally a happy kid. She loves to read (just like her mama!) and binge watch Netflix shows. She’s such a good kid. I couldn’t ask for better!
  • Elijah – He’s the kid who has changed the most recently. I guess puberty will do that for you. He’s twelve and a half and taller than me and Kyra now by  just a little, and he’s pretty proud of that. He’s still my quiet, shy, smart boy, though. He still loves football, and I think he appreciates my newfound enjoyment of the game (thanks to FanDuel.) We have spent more time together watching football already this season than I think we have in his previous eleven years combined. He plays for the Farragut Admirals, and he’s doing so well. Being the new guy on the team, he’s had to really prove himself and fight for a spot. He did that in a big way last week! He returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown, and then followed that up with a huge sack, five tackles, and three carries for positive yardage each time. He’s been playing a lot more offense since that game. I think he impressed the coach!
  • Owen – I adore this kid! He turned ten this summer. I think he is probably the most genuinely funny kid I’ve ever known. He makes me laugh every day. He’s another book lover. He really enjoys reading, and he’s so good at it! He reads way above his grade level, and he’s been expanding his repertoire lately into books his big sister and I have recommended. He has the best grades of all the kids. Straight A’s, without fail. He wanted to play baseball this Fall, but we were stretched too thin between football and soccer. We just couldn’t fit in a third sport. So, he’s planning to play Spring baseball when it comes around.
  • Hailey – She’s a sweetheart. She loves to be helpful, both at home and at school. She’s her teacher’s right hand in the classroom, always volunteering to help with any and every task. Her birthday is actually coming up next week. I can’t believe she’s going to be 9! She’s been counting down to her birthday for the last three months. Out of all the kids, she’s the one who looks forward to her birthday the most. She’s finally getting to play soccer this season. She played when she was in Kindergarten, but then the next two seasons just didn’t work out because of moving to Harriman and our family schedule. She played baseball and basketball for one season each between then and now, but insists that the only sport she really cares for is soccer. Signing her up this season was at the top of our recreational priority list! She’s been loving it. She’s on an all girls team, and she’s doing so well. She gets a little more aggressive each week. Her first soccer game was also the first soccer game I had ever been to. Turns out, they’re fast-paced and fun to watch. I guess I’m officially a soccer mom now.
  • Abby – My sweet baby girl is not much of a baby anymore. She’s seven and a half and as sweet as ever. I may have to fold her up two or three times to get her to fit in my lap, but we still make it work. She’s still my super precocious child. She’s still planning to be an engineer when she grows up, but she told us the other day that she’s reconsidering her desire to be the President as well. She said, “It seems like a lot of work!” She’s smart and rambunctious and is still the perfect mix of girly-girl and tomboy. She’ll be playing baby dolls with Hailey one minute and the next thing I know she’ll be outside playing in the dirt and ruining her clothes.
  • Logan – This one is really growing up a lot lately. Not necessarily in the physical way (although, that, too,), but he’s really starting to mature a lot in the way he carries himself. He’s a great kid and rarely gets in trouble. He is Elijah’s shadow. The two of them are thick as thieves! He’s playing soccer and doing great in school. He is naturally very athletic. He’s super smart and has a fantastic smile that catches you off guard by how completely adorable he is!

So, full disclosure . . . I wrote the above post a month ago, all the way down to the middle of the last paragraph. Then I got distracted by the kids coming home from school and never returned to it. Sheesh! The best laid plans . . .

But, here I am again . . . finishing it.

I don’t know what the future of my blog entails, but I think I’ll be blogging much more frequently. It may be a completely random mix of family news, my own thoughts about whatever crosses my mind, or just the random picture.

Stay tuned!

 

 

Lit Babies

Filed under: Abby Jo,Elijah,Hailey,Kids,Kyra,Logan,Owen,Reading — Rachel at 1:02 pm on Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Anyone that knows me knows I love to read. I love books–all sorts of books. Since having children, I’ve wanted to pass down my bookish nature, and, so far, it’s been an overwhelming success. My three older children enjoy reading, and do it for fun on their own. They are all good readers. Owen, in particular, has tested in the 99th percentile for reading at school, and that gives me great pleasure. The three youngest kids aren’t yet reading fluently enough to comfortably read a chapter book on their own, but they are getting there.

 

I’m a big believer in reading aloud to kids above their reading level, and, since Matt and I got married, that’s become our nightly tradition. I also don’t believe in censoring books (with few exceptions), and will allow the kids to read most anything they want after a certain age. My intent in reading to them is to give them a taste of good writing and good literature and a love of a well-told story, so when they are choosing their own books they will have a more discriminating literary palate.

Chronicles of Narnia

 

Before bedtime, we gather in the girls’ bedroom, and I read to Matt and the four littlest ones. We started out reading the Pippi Longstocking books, then Robinson Crusoe, and now The Chronicles of Narnia. We have read all of the Chronicles except for The Magician’s Nephew, which we are reading now. Since Owen and Abby are with their dad every other week, when we have just Hailey and Logan at home, we read something different to them. We are currently reading The Series of Unfortunate Events. We are on Book the 2nd, The Reptile Room, right now.

If you have any book recommendations, I’d love to hear them. Leave your suggestions in the comments section!

Our Honeymoon

Filed under: Family,Love,Marriage,Matthew,Me,Our Love Story,Photos,Trips — Rachel at 9:47 am on Sunday, August 2, 2015

Matthew and I got married on May 24 of last year, but didn’t go on a honeymoon then for several reasons. The biggest reason was Matt was gone for a month of our summer for the Army. The second biggest reason was financial. After paying for a wedding, we didn’t want to go into debt to take a honeymoon. So, we waited a year, saved some money, and, in July, we went on a belated honeymoon/one year anniversary trip. It was incredible!

We flew to San Juan, Puerto Rico where we boarded the Carnival Liberty and set sail for the islands of the Caribbean.

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Our first Port of Call was in St Thomas, US Virgin Islands! We had a really good time in St Thomas. We took an ocean kayaking and snorkeling tour. We kayaked through the mangroves, hiked around a protected island, and went snorkeling. On our hike, we got to see some really interesting things. I held a small sea urchin in my hand, and we raced hermit crabs. When we snorkeled, we saw several types of fish, including a barracuda.

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Our second day was an At Sea day. We spent most of our time lounging on the Serenity Deck, which is the 21 and over area. We had a hammock that we ended up on nearly ever day, and the best hot tubs were on that deck. We loved lying together on the hammock, reading our books and sipping our drinks.
It was also our first elegant night, and I enjoyed dressing up with my man!

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After our elegant dinner, we went to change before the comedy show and found this Towel Bat hanging in our room!

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Our second Port of Call on our third day was Barbados. We loved Barbados! We didn’t book an excursion, but had a beach day instead. Barbados has beautiful beaches with crystal clear water. It was so clear, in fact, I was standing neck deep in the water and noticed a huge starfish lying on the bottom about four feet away from me. We had a lot of fun snorkeling. We found two starfish, and took lots of pictures with Matt’s new GoPro camera he bought for the trip.

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Our fourth day brought us to our third Port of Call…St Lucia. I had been looking forward to St Lucia more than the other islands, because Matt told me he had a surprise planned for my birthday at St Lucia. I had no idea whatsoever about what we were doing. When we got off the boat, we took an hour and a half taxi ride to our destination. The ride itself was great, because it was like a tour of a large part of the island. We saw everything from banana plantations to fishing villages to the peaks of the Pitons on our ride.

Our destination was the Rainforest Spa, where Matt had booked a couples massage, lunch and a private plunge pool. It was incredible! The massage itself happened in a private hut in the rainforest. When our massages were finished, the masseuses opened up the back wall of our hut to reveal the private waterfall plunge pool. It was incredible. Our lunch was rice, vegetables and fish wrapped in banana leaves and steamed in a bamboo bowl. The whole experience was amazing. Matt really outdid himself in the gifts and romance departments!

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Our fifth day’s Port of Call was St Kitts. We were excited about our excursion that day. We went ziplining in the forest above an old sugar plantation. It was lots of fun! I enjoyed going down a couple of the ziplines upside down! When we finished, a boy put a monkey on me. Later that day, we went to a little beach bar to get wifi and I sent the kids a picture of me and the monkey. I told them we had adopted a baby brother for them because it looked so much like Owen. The little ones thought I was funny, at least.

 

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This was also our second elegant night on the boat. I was so proud to walk around with my handsome husband!

 

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Our sixth day took us to our final Port of Call…St Maarten. We went on a powerboat and snorkeling tour. The powerboat was fun, but not much different than riding a jet ski through the water. The real fun was snorkeling. We snorkeled off of a European style (aka nude) beach. That was an experience–seeing people standing on the decks of their boats as naked as the day they were born! The snorkeling was really great. We saw huge sea urchins, a starfish, clown fish, and a host of other fish. The most exciting thing we saw was a huge eagle ray!

Unfortunately, our St Maarten day proved to be a day of bad luck. Matt slipped getting into the powerboat, and, when he grabbed the steering wheel to catch himself, it went between his fingers and hurt his hand really bad. Once we got home and had it x-rayed, it proved to be a bad spiral fracture of the second metacarpal. So, he’s in a cast for the next four weeks. On the same day, his wedding band slipped off his finger without him noticing. We retraced our steps on the ship, but couldn’t find it. We have no idea if he lost it on the ship or while we were on the island. A third less devastating thing that occurred on our bad luck day was his GoPro battery died shortly after we left the ship, even though it had been fully charged. So we don’t have any photos from our time on the island.

After all our adventures, I decided I was too tired to dress up for a fancy dinner. Instead, we spent the evening lounging on the Serenity Deck, sipping fruity frozen drinks, reading, and napping. It was wonderful! We ate dinner on the Lido deck, and then saw a couple comedy shows.

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The next morning, we arrived back in San Juan, Puerto Rico. We were sad to see our adventure come to an end, but we had six little people at home we were missing a lot. Grammy Alice picked us up at the airport, and Hailey and Logan nearly knocked us over with hugs. We got the other four kids back the next morning. This mama was very glad to have all six of her babies under the same roof again!

We may have had to wait a year for our honeymoon, but it was definitely worth the wait!


This Year So Far – The Highlights

Filed under: Abby Jo,Army,Birthdays,Elijah,Family,Hailey,Home,Kids,Kyra,Logan,Matthew,Me,Owen,Photos,School,Trips — Rachel at 11:46 am on Tuesday, July 28, 2015

I don’t think I’ve ever let myself go so long without blogging here, and I’ve got a lot of ground to make up for. This post will be photo heavy, and just hit the highlights.

 

Celebrating the new year. January 1, 2015, 12:00 a.m.

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Our three little guys played basketball this year. It was the first time playing basketball for all three of them, and they really enjoyed it.

 

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Kyra played basketball on two different teams this year. This was after the game where she made her first ever 3 pointer!

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We had a tremendous snow in February, and we were iced in for several days. Our road was impassable. At one point, Matthew and I had to walk out to the highway with rucksacks to meet my dad so he could take us to the grocery store to restock. These children ate us out of house and home!

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They enjoyed the snow, though!

 

 

 

 

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Elijah turned 11 on March 25, and Logan and Abby turned 6 the next day, on March 26. We had a birthday party for them at our house.

 

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Owen, Abby, and Logan all played baseball this Spring, and they were on the same team. (It was a really wide age range.) It was Owen and Abby’s first time playing baseball. Owen played catcher, and he loved it. Abby wasn’t a huge fan. I’m not sure if she will play again next year.

 

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Enjoying the newly warm weather, I took the three boys out for ice cream one day after getting their hair cut.

 

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Because I’m mean, I sent the above picture to the girls who were at home, and they sent me the picture below in response.

 

 

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Because I’m not really a mean mama, when I took the girls for haircuts a few days later, they got ice cream, too. (We took a frappachino home to Kyra, who didn’t get her hair cut that day. No worries. I’m pretty fair.)

 

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I had a really lovely Mother’s Day, and was so glad that I got to spend it with all six of my kids. They made me feel very loved and special.

 

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Matt and I got to accompany the Wonder Twins on their Kindergarten field trip to the zoo. We had a blast! They loved the River Otters.

 

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I also got to go with Owen on his Farm Day field trip.

 

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Abby and Logan graduated from Kindergarten, both with special awards. We were so very proud of them. (The other kids all got special awards, too, but I’m sparing you pictures of all of them. This post is already getting so long!)

 

 

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Matt and I celebrated our 1st Anniversary on May 24th with several different (kid-free) activities, including my first ever game of golf…which I loved!

 

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Kyra had a piano recital in May, and she did a really great job playing “Hedwig’s Theme” from the Harry Potter movies.IMG_3632  IMG_3633

 

We went on a weekend camping trip in June that we really enjoyed. It was big on fun and short on pictures. We can’t wait to go again very soon!

 

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Matt spent nearly three weeks away from us in June. He had to go to a three day drill followed by two weeks at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin to finish ILE (a school for the Army…the equivalent of a Master’s degree). We really missed him while he was gone, but we are all very proud of him.

 

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Kyra turned 13 on June 20th, and Owen turned 9 on June 26th. We had a party for them after Matt got home from Wisconsin. I thought it was sweet that they wanted to postpone their party until their stepdad could be there.

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Kyra had a Dr Who cake, and Owen had a Jurassic World cake. Unfortunately, I somehow missed getting a photo of Owen with his cake.

 

 

 

 

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The picture below is from my birthday, which was July 4th. I turned 27 again!

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I hope you enjoyed this jam packed highlight post. We did so many, many more cool things over the last seven months, and I could have shared hundreds of more photos. This post would have been a mile long, though. We are a very blessed family!

 

 

 

In Memory of My Papaw

Filed under: Family — Rachel at 1:36 pm on Thursday, March 19, 2015

This is the eulogy that I gave at Papaw’s funeral. He was a wonderful grandfather, and we will never forget him. 

Papaw

 

J.C. Francis was many things over the course of his life. He was a son, a brother, a husband, a father, and a friend to many, but to me and my five brothers, he was simply our Papaw.

Since our father was Papaw’s only child, the six of us were his only grandchildren. He loved us, and showed us that by spending lots of time with us. When we were growing up, we spent a lot of time at Papaw and Mamaw’s house. We would call them on the phone Friday after school and ask if we could come spend the night. Papaw would always say, “You know you can.” We would stay with them till our parents would make us come home Saturday night to take a bath for church on Sunday. In the summer, we practically moved in. I don’t remember there ever being a time when Papaw told us he had other plans. We always felt like we were the most important to him. When they lived in their old house, we slept in Papaw’s big undershirts. I don’t remember if it was because we got scared by ourselves or just because they wanted to be close to us, but I would sleep with Mamaw in their bed and Papaw would sleep in one of the small beds with one of the boys. We always felt special.

We weren’t always just left to our own devices while we were there, either. Well, unless Nascar was on. Papaw did things with us. He took us fishing in his pond, watched cartoons with us, and played with us. When my brother tied me to Papaw’s worm tree and then forgot me there, it was Papaw that came looking for me and rescued me. He gave me some butter pecan ice cream to make me feel better.

It was the little things that I remember that are precious to me. Holding Papaw’s hand when he took us down to the pond to feed his catfish. We stood on the big rock, he would rattle the fish food around in an old coffee can, and then then he would throw it out onto the water. We watched till the fish were gone, and then we would hold his hand again and walk back up to the house. Papaw’s hands were so big, we often just held onto his finger. He was silly with us, and made us laugh. When one of us said grace over our meal, Papaw would end it with, “Amen. Bro. Ben. Shot at a rooster and killed a hen.” He was a little irreverent, but he had a fantastic sense of humor.

He always took us places, especially when I was really little and there weren’t so many of us. He took us to see interesting things, like a cattle auction, or to visit relatives, and every trip usually ended with a trip to Jim’s Burgers in Harriman. He would ask us if we wanted to go get one of “those little hamburgers”. Papaw took us to the only circus I’ve ever been to. He was kind and generous, but a little overprotective. He wouldn’t let us ride the elephants, because he was pretty sure we would get hurt.

As we got older, Papaw continued to be a big part of our lives. Mine and Aaron’s first cars were hand me downs given to us by Papaw. When my first car died, Papaw took me and bought me another one that I paid him back for twenty bucks at a time. Unfortunately, it was a granny car, because Papaw insisted a smaller, cooler car was entirely too dangerous. He gave us special things over the years…pocket knives and old jewelry. He always gave us himself.

When we were grown, and began having kids of our own, Papaw continued to be a wonderful grandfather. He couldn’t be counted on to remember our kids’ names, but, even though he was in his seventies, he would get down in the floor and play with our babies. He carried them out to look at the cows and throw pebbles in the pond. They don’t remember him the same way me and my brothers do. They were all so little when his health began to go. However, they know him through the stories we tell about him, and there are a great many stories to tell.

In his last years, as his health failed him, his grandchildren had the opportunity to return some of the time that he invested in us. My brothers have taken him to doctor’s appointments, dressed him, shaved him, and cared for him in every way possible. Watching my brothers, young men and teenagers, care for their elderly grandfather was a testament to everyone to the kind of Papaw he had been to us.

When the time came to say goodbye, each one of us had the chance to come and be with Papaw. We got to tell him we love him and thank him for everything he did for us. When he drew his final breath, two of my brothers were with him. Today, as we prepare to lay him to rest, I just want everyone to know that, among all the things J.C. Francis was in his life, he was the best Papaw that any kid could ask for.

Papaw and Mamaw

This is my Papaw J.C. and my Mamaw June.

meandpapaw

Baby Me and Papaw

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Mamaw June, me, Papaw, Lucas, Jason, Aaron, and Malachi (Seth wasn’t born yet.)

mePapawmamawKids

Me and my kids with Papaw and Mamaw, after Papaw’s stroke.

 

Saying Goodbye

Filed under: Family — Rachel at 1:22 pm on Thursday, March 19, 2015

holdingpapawshand

Last Wednesday, my baby brother, Seth, called and asked me to go to the nursing home with him to see our grandfather. Papaw had been doing very poorly for about a week. Me, my older brother, Aaron, my younger brother, Malachi, and my dad had went to the nursing home about a week before to sign DNR forms and instruct them on how we wanted Papaw’s care to go. We were expecting that to be the end, but then the doctor said he thought Papaw was going to pull out of it. By Tuesday, they had told us that he was not going to get better. And yet he lingered.

So on Wednesday, Seth called and told me that Dad thought all of us grandchildren should go and tell Papaw that it was okay for him to go on home. I loaded up all the kids, and went to my parents’ house to pick up Seth and leave the kids there with Dad. While I was there, I discovered that my tire had a hole in it, and Dad and Seth changed it for me. We were later than we intended to get to the nursing home. When we finally got on our way, we made it about three minutes down the road before Seth got a phone call from our parents. The nursing home had called to say they thought Papaw only had a couple of hours.

Me, Seth, and our niece, Keinzie, got to the nursing home and went to our Papaw’s room. He looked terrible. Even worse than the last time I had seen him. He was skeletal and asleep. His bed was lowered all the way down for safety reasons, so I got down on my knees beside his bed, stroked his white hair back from his forehead, and told him that I loved him, thanked him for everything he had done for us, and told him it was okay to go on home. Seth repeated these sentiments, and we were both bawling our eyes out. Papaw’s eyes were open and he looked in our general direction, but I don’t think he could see us. He had lost most of his sight when he had a stroke a few years ago. In his weakened state, I don’t think he could see us at all. A nurse came and told us that they were going to move Papaw to a private room. Seth and I continued to talk to Papaw until the nurses came to get him. As we went out into the hallway to let them work on getting him moved, Mom, Dad, and my Aunt Gail (my Mamaw’s sister) arrived. There were many tearful hugs.

The nurses got Papaw settled into a private room, and we were joined by other family members. Over the next twenty-four hours, family gathered with Papaw. We thought he would go quickly, but he lingered. We talked to him, held his hand, played some of his favorite songs for him, and generally just kept a vigil. The only response we ever got was when we played music, he would look in our general direction, and, at one point, he seemed to be squeezing my hand. He never got any more alert, though.

We wondered if he was waiting on Mamaw to come. My Mamaw June has Alzheimer’s and hasn’t known any of us for quite some time. She’s like a small child. My mom and Aunt Gail went and got her and brought her to the nursing home. She wasn’t sure who any of us were, but she seemed happy to be with us. When they brought her in the room, we told him that June was there, and he leaned toward her and made the only sound he made throughout the entire time (with the exception of crying out in pain when the nurses moved him). It was almost a whimper. We told her that Papaw was her husband and that he was very sick. She asked some questions, but was mostly distracted by everyone else. She didn’t know him, but she was happy to tell him anything we told her to tell him. So we had her tell him that she was June, she loved him, and that it was okay for him to go home. We had her tell him that she would be okay.

I just about lost it as I was trying to help her understand. It’s very much like dealing with a young child. I told her that Papaw was very sick, and he wanted to go home and see his mom and dad. She said she thought he should go on home then and that she wanted to go home and see her Mommy, too. I told her that he wanted to know if it was okay with her for him to go. She leaned over him and said, “It’s okay with me. Go on home.” Then she looked at me and asked me who was going to come and get him. My heart broke in two then. I wasn’t sure what to say, so I told her that his Mommy and Daddy would meet him and take him home. She just smiled and said, “That’s good.”

After that, we waited. Mamaw stayed for a while. She sang “Amazing Grace” to Papaw. She can’t remember a single one of us, but she remembers every word to that song.

 

We wondered why Papaw lingered at death’s door for so long. My dad is his only child, and us grandchildren were his family. Jason and Malachi, my brothers, had been by a couple of days before to say goodbye before they left for California and New Jersey. Me, Aaron, and Seth were all at the nursing home with him, as was our dad and Mamaw. The only one of us who hadn’t been there was our brother, Lucas, who was working in New Orleans. During the night, Lucas got a layoff from his job, and headed home. He drove all through the night to come and be with Papaw. At about ten thirty on Thursday, Lucas made it. He got to say his goodbyes to Papaw.

At about two thirty, I decided to go home and take a shower. I had been at the nursing home for twenty-four hours with no sleep. I was tired, and we weren’t sure how much longer it would be. Shortly after I stepped out of the shower at home, my mom called me to tell me that Papaw had gone home. I was devastated to have not been with him, but comforted to know that Dad and Lucas and Seth were with him when he passed.

On Sunday, we laid my Papaw to rest. It was a very nice funeral, and I think Papaw would have liked it. I was honored to give the eulogy, and the honor guard was at the burial. It was a very moving tribute to a man I loved very much.

I’m really going to miss my Papaw, but I’m glad to know that he is in a better place where he doesn’t have to suffer anymore.

Abigail

Filed under: Abby Jo,Family,Kid Quote,Kids,Photos — Rachel at 2:47 pm on Wednesday, February 11, 2015

I love my little “girly-girl tomboy”, as she recently dubbed herself. These pictures and quotes definitely capture her tomboy side more than her girly-girl side, though. I propose that she’s really just a completely fabulous, well-rounded girl, with all the many facets that girlhood encompasses.

abbybow

“My game I made is called, ‘You can always find an adventure.'”

 

abbyslugs

 

“I caught ten slugs!”

Kid Quote

Filed under: Kid Quote,Kyra — Rachel at 4:56 pm on Thursday, February 5, 2015

“My brain is hardwired for literature…not math!” – Kyra

 

Like mother, like daughter, huh?

How Is Married Life Treating Us?

Filed under: Family,Love,Marriage,Matthew,Me — Rachel at 11:27 am on Thursday, February 5, 2015

I love being married! I really do. I was made to be a wife and a mother. It’s what makes me happiest in life. Every time I see someone I haven’t seen in a while, I get asked, “How’s married life treating you?”

Well, the answer is that it’s treating me wonderfully. Matt and I just had a long conversation the other day about how much better our lives are since we got married. I firmly believe that sitting and counting your blessings…intentionally speaking aloud all the things you have to be thankful for…is the one needful step toward contentment.

Our lives are so much better on all fronts since Matt and I got married. Of course, the big one is relational. We adored each other when we were dating and when we were engaged, but something just changes when you make the commitment to be married to someone. Going to bed together every night and waking up with each other every morning is such a comfort to me. Sending him off to work and being home, cooking dinner, when he gets back every evening is comforting. All the time spent cuddling on the couch watching football games or snuggled in bed watching “The Walking Dead” (very romantic, I know) are comforting. It’s just the “being there”…every day…together. I am just thrilled with the prospect of all the ordinary, nothing exciting days we have to share for the rest of our lives.

Another benefit to being married is that we were single parents, but now we are a family. I’m going to brag on my husband here. He is such an incredible man and an extraordinary father. When his ex left him, she walked out on him and the kids. He had to balance his full time civilian job and his Army Reserve career with being both a dad and a mom to Hailey and Logan. It was all on him. Before he moved to Tennessee, his mother moved to Lexington to help him out for a while, but after he transferred here for his job, he was completely on his own for raising his kids. I have mad respect for him. He loves his kids more than life itself, and it was very evident when I met him. He was getting up every morning, getting ready for work, getting the kids up, dressed for school, fixing Hailey’s hair, feeding them breakfast, dropping them off, going to work all day, picking them up from daycare, grocery shopping, taking them home and cooking them dinner, doing dishes, laundry, playing with the kids, doing homework with Hailey, bathing them, reading to them, lying down with them till they went to sleep, and about nine thirty every night, he had the only time in his day to take a breath. He didn’t just do everything, he did everything well. He didn’t just wake them up in the morning, he sang them awake. He didn’t just keep them alive and going, he played with them and engaged with them. He coached their soccer and baseball teams. He was completely incredible, but he was exhausted.

I was a single mom, but I had a lot more help. My children’s father is just as involved in their lives as I am. He had them half the time. When I went to work and school, Amy watched Abby for me and took the other kids to school and picked them up.After she moved out, if I was in a bind, I called Chris and we worked it out for him to take the kids when I needed him to. I was only really on my own with the kids for a couple months before we got married. I’m not saying it was easy, but I had help. I missed my kids terribly when I was working or at school on the days I had my kids. I had been a stay at home mom for ten years before my divorce, and it was painful to not be the one at home with them.

Getting married changed those things for us. Matt no longer had to do everything himself, and I got to be at home with my kids again. Matt could be the dad and I could be the mom, and no one had to pull double duty anymore. He is still exhausted a lot of the time because he works full time, has the Army obligations, and is in school right now. He doesn’t have to worry about grocery shopping or cooking dinner or getting kids to and from school anymore. He doesn’t have to worry about homework or doing laundry. I’m here to do those things. I get the kids up and dressed in the morning. I fix Hailey’s hair. I take them for haircuts and to the doctor and dentist. That’s not to say Matt doesn’t ever help with those things, because he does. He’s an incredibly kind and generous husband, and he does things just to be helpful and nice all the time. But he doesn’t have to anymore, and that makes all the difference. When he has to go away for the Army or travel overnight for work, he doesn’t have to worry about coordinating childcare for the kids. They just stay home with me. While I hold down the fort at home, he works incredibly hard to provide for us, and I don’t have to worry about money or surviving anymore. Marriage has obviously made our domestic lives much, much easier and more enjoyable.

Financially, there’s no question that we’re better off now. Matt was bearing the full weight of supporting his kids, and that was incredibly expensive when he was paying for daycare. I take care of the kids now, and that took a huge financial burden off of him. That’s just one example of how being married is financially better for us than being single. There are many, many more, on both sides. I was pretty much destitute right before we got married, so there’s no question that I am better off.

Matt and I are both the kind of people who are happiest in this kind of life. We are tough, determined people and we could have survived without each other, but we have found incredible happiness with each other. Getting married deepened that happiness immensely. There is such comfort in a loving and mutually respectful marriage. We are each other’s best friend and biggest fan. No matter what, we’ve got each other’s back. We fight each other’s fights and we celebrate each other’s victories. We have accepted each other’s children as our own, and we are committed to our family and to each other. We will take the exciting days filled with adventure along with the comfortable, nothing-special days at home and appreciate them together for what they are. Our life together.

So, how is married life treating us? Exceptionally well!

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