Happy New Year!

Well, it is that time of year again. Time to reflect back on the past 12 months, but more importantly, ahead to the 12 that are coming up.

What a great year we've had around the Simons' house. As usual, it is easy to forget just how much has gone on. I like to take this time each year to do a 'review' of what's occurred.

  • Each of us had another birthday
  • Laura killed her first deer (and went deer hunting with me for the first time!)
  • Avery started 1 day a week Mother's Day out
  • Trey went to 3 day a week pre-k
  • Haley started Kindergarten. And rides the bus!
  • We sold our house in Windward slopes. Twice (first contract fell through)
  • We moved 3 streets over and now live on the lake!
  • We turned the 30 year old pontoon boat that came with the house into a pirate ship
  • I got a tractor
  • Our company was bought out
  • Laura started teaching high school girls again at church
  • I taught young adults again at church
  • My grandfather passed away
  • Laura's grandmother passed away
  • Read the 1 year chronological bible through for the 2nd time this year.

Goals for next year:

  • Live a life that will guide my children to walk in the Truth (3 John 4)
  • Love my wife more
  • Be present with my kids more
  • Continue to take time alone (normally when hunting) to relax, reflect, refocus and talk to God.
  • Read the Bible through again
  • Disciple a group of men to be leaders in their family, church, community and the world. But start with having the right leader in their own life.
  • Focus on being anxious for nothing. I struggle with anxiety more than any other thing.

And the list wouldn't be fun to look at next year without documenting a couple things about everyone in our family:

Haley

  • Loves learning
  • Loves drawing and artwork and crafts of any sort
  • Loves her teacher, Ms. Wooley
  • Loves church. Loves children's choir.
  • Has nearly learned the Lord's Prayer
  • Loves living next door to Ashton/Sarah and down the street from Carrington
  • Thinks that she's one of the smartest kids in her grade. And she's right.
  • Is one of the most creative people I've ever met
  • Is really beginning to enjoy sharing a room with Avery

Trey

  • Is 100% boy
  • Listens sometimes
  • Would take a bullet for either one of his sisters. Especially Avery.
  • Is very protective of his sisters
  • Easily gets his “heart broken” (his words)
  • Loves Jesus
  • Loves his daddy
  • Loves spending time with his family
  • Likes to snuggle
  • Is a lot smarter than he lets on. He “pretends” most of the time not to know the answers, but when you catch him off guard, he knows most of his letters and numbers.

Avery

  • Loves to be held and played with
  • Is extremely determined
  • Is very self sufficient. She usually lets you know she doesn't need help. But when she does, she quickly lets you know that as well. Usually in the form of screaming.
  • Has got the biggest, prettiest eyes
  • Is starting to get longer hair
  • Laughs like crazy
  • Can take a beating, but keeps on going. She rarely cries because she's hurt.
  • Can't sit still for 5 minutes
  • Can't leave ANYTHING alone. No doubt where she's been. She leaves a trail behind her.
  • Usually listens and is obedient. Sometimes listens, but pushes the envelope…testing us.
  • Is fanatical about keeping the floor clean. Which is a really tough job in our house. She walks around the kitchen with a piece of toilet paper wiping the floor.
  • Infatuated with toilet paper. About twice a week, we find a whole roll undone and laying on the floor in the bathroom. We count it as a blessing if she hasn't “cleaned up” by putting all the toilet paper in the potty.

Laura

  • Grown spiritually by leaps and bounds again this year
  • Does a fantastic job teaching her girls. She genuinely cares for them and is very passionate about them.
  • Has been my support. My rock. There is no way I could make it without her emotional support as well as her support around the house. Cooking, cleaning, raising our children.
  • Looks better than the day I met her
  • Loves to put individual dove chocolates in the freezer and pluck them out a couple times a day
  • Has embroidered very little 🙂
  • Has turned our house into a home. Decorating, painting and mostly, making it a loving and relaxing environment.

 

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Super cute future duck hunters

Just a couple of quick pics of some future duck hunters.  Every chance Avery and Trey get, they go upstairs to Hayden’s office, grab a duck call and start blowing it.  The other day, he came in from hunting and they each got a chance to practice their technique with dad.  Trey got a duck call for Christmas from Hayden.  Expecting it to be super quiet around here for the foreseeable future. 🙂

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Hunting

About two years ago, Mom and Dad purchased about 100 acres in Millington, TN. It’s about 30 minutes door to door from our house. The land backs up to the Mirimichi Golf Course that is owned by Justin Timberlake. About 45 acres is farmland that is leased out to a farmer for soybeans. The other is timber – mostly cottonwoods. Big creek runs through the land as well. And I can tell you, Big Creek is a REALLY big creek. There’s really no way to get across it.

There was a small house on the land that is probably about 90 years old. It was in a terrible state of disrepair. No one had lived in it for about 9 years. Our original intent was to tear it down. But upon further thought, my parents decided to put some money into it and bring it back to life. Our family now spends the night out there at least once every other month. The kids LOVE being out there. It takes us back to a simpler time. Sitting around together – all on the same couch. Watching TV. Eating popcorn. Playing board games. Picking up sticks outside.

One thing that I did growing up was spend a lot of time hunting with dad. I got to understand wildlife, gun safety, how to plant food plots. You know – man stuff. Quite frankly, I want my kids to understand the outdoors too.

The amount of wildlife on our place at Millington is less than desirable. Most of this is due to the lack of habitat for the animals. Contrary to what most would think, a really mature forest is NOT good a good habitat for wildlife at all. With a little thought, it all makes sense. Sure, the trees are tall, and there are no briars or weeds growing up on the ground. But when you think about it, what kind of protection does this provide for wildlife like deer and turkeys? What kind of food is available? The short answer is – none.

We’ve worked hard to improve the land. One of the first things we did was to have the Ducks Unlimited guys come out and help us figure out how to get more ducks in. We had a levee pushed up around part of the open field that is cropland and installed a spillway that can be opened and closed. Now, after the soybeans are harvested, we dam up the spillway and allow about 5 acres to flood. Last year was a dismal season for duck hunting due to the weather, but this year we’re hopeful that colder weather will move in up north and the ducks will be migrating…while the season is open. The land is about 5 miles from the Mississippi River, so it seems promising. We’ve already built two duck blinds and I’ve been able to take Haley, Trey and Laura duck hunting already this year. We’ve only bagged a couple of ducks so far, but I can assure you, taking them hunting isn’t just about killing animals. Our primary focus is spending time together and enjoying God’s creation.

So, next up on the agenda is to cut a large portion of the timber and allow some undergrowth to come in. We’ll also be planting a couple of varieties of oak trees, which unlike cottonwoods, will continue to provide a food source for the wildlife on the ground even after the trees have matured.

One thing I’ve really enjoyed over the past year or so is that Laura has also taken up hunting. I know that she enjoys it to some degree, but I also know the main reason she does it is because she knows I enjoy it so much. Aside from allowing us to spend time together, the thing she enjoys most is learning about the animals. Learning the times when deer are most likely to move, what deer eat, what the rut is and how it makes taking a mature buck more likely. She likes to learn about how ducks make the 2,000 mile journey every year…and what drives them to do it. Learning about decoys and calls and tactics. How deer don’t see in color, but ducks do. How a turkey’s most valuable defense is it’s eyesight, but a deer’s is it’s sense of smell.

I took Haley duck hunting yesterday evening. She spent most of the time in the duck blind sitting on the floor and playing on my IPad. Did the noise coming from the IPad help my chances hunting? No. Did a group of 8 wood ducks come over and flare off at the last minute due to the bright light of the IPad? Yes. But I did get a chance to shoot two ducks. And Haley got really excited about it. And the truth is, her excitement had little to do with the ducks. It was more about my excitement. The fact that I picked HER to go hunting with me. To share in that

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experience. I chose her to share yesterday evening with in a duck blind. It’s this these types of memories that sticks with me from the hunts with my dad. And it is these types of memories I look forward to making more of.

Below are a couple pictures from hunts this year…followed by the morning of my first duck hunt and the first duck I killed with my dad.

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