Sunday, September 17, 2017

The Decade

A wise woman once told me that when you have children, you lose a decade of your life.  I was a bit taken aback when she first dropped this little nugget of wisdom upon me.  Surely not.  An entire DECADE?  

For all you Lutherans out there...


This is the decade where we live for naptimes and
 if you can't respect the naptimes we probably don't need you in our life right now. 

This is the decade where grandmas can be paid in snuggles and giggles.*  
(*Not from their own offspring, but from the grandbabies.) 

This is the decade where birthdays are a big deal.

This is the decade where memes like this hit a little too close to home at times. 

The decade where you ride a camel if your kid asks you to. 

...Or ride down a super giant slide, even if you really don't like heights.

 The decade where running snap tests (or any chore) takes 100 times longer than it should because you have so many little helpers. 

The decade where you are eternally stuck in a rocking chair with a nursing baby and random creepers feel the need to check on you periodically. 

The decade where you blink and suddenly your kid can write letters all by himself. 

The decade where you tell stories to your great grandma and she plays along like it's the best story in the history of the world. 

This is the decade where you can sing Tanya Tucker lullabies to make your kiddos grin.

The decade where you can wear a straw hat after labor day, a t-shirt and shotgun your boots and no one asks you if you're from Oklahoma. 

I think my friend was right.  Life is such a blur right now that sometimes it does feel like one day we'll blink and a decade will have passed.  

But what a hell of a decade this is. 

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Happy Thoughts

Life has been weighing heavily upon me recently.  There are many things in others' lives I wish I could change right now.  Things that just simply aren't fair.

I cannot change these circumstances because I seem to have misplaced my magic wand (it's probably under the stack of laundry on my couch that needs folded); therefore I'll attempt to alleviate my mood by focusing on the good things in life.  Perhaps some of these grins will perk up more than just my day as well.  My apologies on the random photos.  Random is all my feeble mind can manage today.

Kathryn smiles often and just yesterday began to laugh.  Her laugh is one of the purest, sweetest sounds in the world. 

Last Saturday I stepped waaaaay out of my comfort zone and participated in a 5K.  Whatever happened to the 2 mile 'fun runs' of my youth?  This was over 3 miles through a hay meadow, pushing a stroller with a two month old baby and sopping wet feet from the heavy dew.  Not something I think I want to attempt again tomorrow, but certainly an enjoyable experience.  Many thanks to my friend Amanda for the push to participate.  Even if I was the very last person to cross the finish line.  

Very. Last. One. 

It was a beautiful morning for a walk, and by walking insanely slowly I was able to take photos like this one without blurring the image.  That was my real reason for walking so slow.  *cough, cough

I'm in love with my simply squeezable and kissable niece, Madeline.  Even though I have my own baby, I never pass up an opportunity to hug and kiss on another one. 

We've had an abundance of rain lately, and one can't complain about that in mid-August.  The boys have thoroughly enjoyed playing and splashing in the puddles. 

Kenyon likes to prove his manliness by picking up objects both great and small.  All stud, all the time. 

He may be a goof, but he's my goof and I love him dearly for it. 

 I casually asked if anyone was ready for lunch and John came running around the corner of the house and attacked me.  Apparently he was hungry.

Where flowers bloom, so does hope.
-Lady Bird Johnson

He fills my life with good things.
Psalm 103:5

Blessed are they that see beautiful things in humble places where other people see nothing.

To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.
-Audrey Hepburn

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Whatever You Do

On the last night of our county fair there is a livestock auction held, just as is the case in most counties around the country.  Children take their animals to the ring one last time, knowing that their animals will then be loaded up on trailers and taken to a meat locker.  It's a tough lesson to learn, but one that must be taught.  It's simply the circle of life.  

A word of caution:  If you are a hormonal, nursing mother, whatever you do, do not walk behind the auction block.  

If I had a nickel for every puffy eyed child that gave me a brave smile as they unlocked their arms from a parent's waist, I'd be rich indeed.  

Monday, July 31, 2017

That Kid

Last night, my one year old and three year old ran around the county fair like wild banshees.  They were covered in dirt from head to toe and having the time of their life.

The three year old found an egg in one of the chicken cages in the corner of the show barn. He then found and told the seven year old owner about it.  The seven year old was so gracious and gave the egg to his new protege.  He let the little one tag along as he did his chores, changing out water and filling feed pans.  No one demanded, asked, or even suggested that he take the little one under his wing; that kid just felt it was the right thing to do.

Earlier that day, the seven year old boy stood outside the ring with his animal before the show, nervous and anxious and terrified and worried and excited and every other feeling possible on the spectrum.  A thirteen year old girl squatted down, looked him in the eye and reviewed with him the process of showing his animal.  She helped calm his fears and gave him confidence that he was more than capable of rocking it in the ring.  Again, no one suggested this budding teenager take a little one under her wing, that kid just felt it was the right thing to do.

Later, the thirteen year old girl was practicing to show an unfamiliar animal in the round robin that evening and didn't have a clue where to begin.  Showing horses is completely different than showing hogs and she needed a crash course, fast.  A college aged girl thought back fondly of her days in the show ring and took ten minutes to help the younger girl learn how to pivot her horse and where to properly hold her hands. Again, no one suggested the college student take a younger one under her wing; that kid just felt it was the right thing to do.

We are so fortunate to live in a place where we all know that kid.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Learn By Doing

One of my favorite bible verses is found in Proverbs.  

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. 
Proverbs 22:6

I realize this verse probably pertains more to shaping a child's moral fiber than shipping cattle, but I also feel that the two are not mutually exclusive either.  We are trying to immerse our children in our lifestyle as much as possible.  First, because we have no choice.  The cattle and crops are all around us and you can't help but become all consumed by it.  Secondly, we do feel that several great life lessons can be accidentally taught because the kids are soaking everything in.  

The high yesterday was near 100 with very high humidity and very little wind that morning.  I insisted that Kenyon wear shorts for comfort.  He insisted he wear boots for working.  We are working together to learn the art of compromise. 

Kenyon instantly noticed the white truck.  
"Hey, Mom, look at those stacks!"

I love these four little kiddos.  I have a feeling they will be thick as thieves for quite a while.  It is fun to hear their conversations about cows and pigs and all things dirt related, as it is all any of them know. 

My heart nearly bursts every time I look at this photo.  Every morning and night my husband will sit at the table and finish up some paperwork.  He makes out a list of tasks for the next day, a feed route, bills to pay or something similar.  I didn't realize how much Kenyon noticed that.  He stopped in the middle of his lunch the other day and crawled into his dad's chair.  "Mom, I'm gonna help out my dad and do some paperwork for him."  I still have that paperwork and probably always will. 

Of all the toys in the world, they love to run back and forth on the hay trailer. 

The longest ten minutes of any kiddo's life are those agonizing moments when you can see the tractor and baler on the other side of the field and you have to wait for the ride to come to you. 

Monday, July 17, 2017

We Are Big Ag

Bear with me today, friends.  I feel a need to get out my soapbox.

I try very hard to keep most of this blog light.  I like to show the human side of agriculture in my writing.  Yes, I could spout facts and figures all day to the masses, but studies have shown that the human connection has just as great, if not greater, an impact upon the masses than all the infographics in the world.

I could tell you that raising cattle or crops today is more efficient than years past; that we produce more beef and feed on less land mass while using less water and creating a smaller carbon footprint.  I could explain all of this until I'm blue in the face.

Would it make a difference?  Sometimes I wonder.

You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him think drink.

I recently spoke with someone who watched a food related documentary and then proceeded to inform me about all the ills of the world that were caused by our hideous food supply, including but not limited to the beef industry and 'big ag'.

I cannot even begin to list all the inaccuracies that were presented to me regarding the documentary.  That is another lengthy post for another day.  The other part that stuck out to me was the negative connotation regarding the beef industry and big ag.

That is me.  That is my family.  We are big ag.

We bust our butts to grow a great product and then we eat that product just the same as everyone else.  We don't keep the good stuff in the back for ourselves and sell consumers a load of junk.  We create a safe, sustainable, quality product that we are proud to eat and proud to share with the world.

The next time you think about big ag, think about this little guy that just crawled off a tractor and baler with his dad and is terribly filthy and needs to nap.  Greater than 96% of farms and ranches are family owned.  That means all over the country there are kiddos learning the ropes from parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles.  They are riding around in feed pickups, on tractors, four wheelers or horseback and learning how to feed the rest of the world, even those that seem to despise us.

The next time hear someone complain about our food industry, make sure they remember all the little ones that make up big ag.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Life Lately: June Edition

Warning: This post is a jumble of random.  Why?  Because the kids are due to wake just about any second.  It's not that I don't enjoy writing blogs anymore; rather, the opposite is quite true.  I'd love to write each and every day.  I start hundreds of witty blogs in my head because there are just so many things that y'all NEED TO KNOW.  I have some life altering info in my tiny little brain, I promise, and your life is just not as complete without it.....  Or something like that.  Also, I tell myself these days that I can't start a blog post until all my chores are done.  (Thanks to my parents for beating that little gem into my brain as a youngster.)  Guess what?  MY CHORES ARE NEVER DONE.  So I'm being a rebel this morning and writing a post even though there is a stack of laundry behind me on the couch that weighs more than all my kiddos put together.  Okay, not really, but you get my drift. 

Do y'all look this punchy when you go grocery shopping?  I seriously doubt it.  Kenyon loves his boots we bought at a friend's garage sale.  Extra style points for the hand on hip as he strutted down every aisle.  You should see the smiles and hear the comments he gets from folks, especially old men.  He's a pretty big deal.

I don't believe there is a caption needed for this.  I have recently discovered the beauty of memes and try to sprinkle them in casual conversation where applicable.

A recent ranch rodeo with cousin Kade.  Notice his punchy boots as well.  The style game is strong with these two.  And John was just hot, so he got a pass on wearing tall tops that night. 

Best food label EVER.  I wish this food label were found on almost all products.  As a side note, please refrain from using words like 'Non-GMO' and 'Organic' around me if you value our friendship.  Not wanting to start a lengthy debate this morning, but simply put I don't feel that they are necessary.  End. Of. Story.

Reading is one of our preferred indoor activities, next to mortal combat and cage fighting.  On hot days like these we get up and do our outside activities while it is still decent outside and then spend lots of time inside coloring, playing with stickers, wrestling and reading. 

Logging some miles in a lovely little evening walk on a decent day.  They love to run down the road and play in the feedbunks. 

Do you see this lovely little lily in the photo below?  I have had a blog post in my mind for years.  

When the lilies bloom it reminds me of the anniversary of me moving back here after grad school so many years ago.  That first day back after unpacking I drove a feed pickup to town and loaded up with groceries and cleaning supplies for our little house that was so desperately in need of both.  I spent quite a lot of money while purchasing all these supplies.  On the way home I stopped alongside a ditch and picked a beautiful bouquet of bright orange ditch lilies and had them sitting in a pretty mason jar on our kitchen table when Wesley got home that day from shipping.  

He saw the receipt of how much money I had spent that morning and then seeing the flowers on the table tipped him past his breaking point.  He asked how much I spent on those 'damn flowers' and I told him something ridiculous like $60.  His fits of rage were comical at that point because we were young and soooooo in love.  *cue eye roll*  We still giggle every year when I pick a bouquet of lilies and every year Wesley asks me just how much money I spent on them. 

Not going to lie, I am not Mary Poppins.  Some days are better than others around here. 

We are big fans of consistency around here.  We're not big fans of genetic variation either.  Behold, a photo of child #3...

... and #1.  (Photo of child #2 not readily available at press time.)

There is never a dull moment when these three are awake.  You'd think I would be skinnier from running ragged, but alas, I am not.

 A bubble machine.  Get one of these in your life immediately if you have small children.  And either have gallons of bubble juice purchased or know the recipe to make homemade bubble juice.  This is entertainment for kids and adults alike.

A nearby town has a summer reading program for toddlers THAT ISN'T SCHEDULED DURING NAPTIME and we enjoy participating in it.  My heart sinks when I learn of a really interesting program I feel the boys would enjoy and then read that it will take place in a few days at 3pm.  Sigh... ain't happenin', y'all.  Our nap time is precious. 

John had a blast trying on the volunteer fireman's helmet a few weeks ago.  Kenyon refused to take off his John Deere cap. 

We are in the thick of a busy summer season, what with shipping and haying.  We took some time a few nights ago to regroup and gain our sanity on the banks of the lake.  The boys fished and Kathryn and I were content to be spectators as she lounged in my arms.  

Side note:  Kath-ryn is two syllables.  Cath-er-ine and other various spellings are three syllables.  A friendly PSA for the masses. 

Laurie.  I just love her.  
I don't care for small dogs and not a fan of dogs that are larger than horses, but heelers are just right.

After a long day of work and play, sleep comes pretty easily most nights around here. 

Very easily. 

Verrrrrrrry easily 

And when we are well rested we can be on our A game to entertain the masses once again!

We believe pretty firmly in immersing the kids in both work and play.  They don't seem to see a difference between the two, which is how more of us should view life I believe. 

And a final thought for the day.  I am trying to repeat this to myself often.  I cringe when I hear people openly call kids 'sassy' or 'mouthy' or 'crazy'.  I often see this followed by the kids turning around and saying something rude back to their parents or act garishly.  They are simply living up to expectations.  

I didn't realize until recently that I didn't hear my parents say these things when we were growing up.  My parents told folks that we were pretty well behaved (they didn't totally lie) and we were smart little girls.  I then knew that other folks had expectations from when they were told and we had better live up to the hype.  

I'll admit, I have days when I set the bar pretty low, but I am making a conscious effort to not call my kids some of these 'creative' names because I don't want to see this behavior emulated.