Celebrate · Family · Personal

Mother’s Day

buster snugglephoto credit: Elizabeth Jane Photography

Today, of course, is Mother’s Day. So far, my third Mother’s Day as a mama has been glorious. My morning looked like throwing on some comfortable athleisure-wear (that’s a thing, right?) (You’ve all tried Old Navy’s workout gear, right?) and going to have some coffee alone. I also picked up (chocolate cake with sprinkles) donuts for the boys, ravioli for dinner tonight (#notcookinganythingcomplicated), and literally seven boxes of blackberries because they were on sale and Wacey is obsessed and since one of my duties as a mother is to prevent my offspring from contracting scurvy, I can get reeeeaaaallll hip to that fruit-obsession-on-sale jive.

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I sat, enjoyed my Vente Espresso Frappucino Light and Butter Croissant and with Two Napkins while beginning Wacey’s Prompted Journal (hey mamas–go get you some of these journals for your babies) and subsequently getting teary while writing the birth story and early days of the boy who made me a mama.

I then checked a big to-do off my list (the best feeling) by vacuuming the car (no kids+time to kill+enough crackers in the backseat to feed a small, pro-gluten country=two rounds with the industrial vacuum at the car wash and a burden off my soul and the axles of the car) and getting the top layer of dirt off the car so now we aren’t slovenly country-dwellers, we’re just sort of dirty people who live on a dirt road.

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Then, Bert called and asked if I’d be okay running to the farm store to order some chainsaw things, and I said of course because I was alone and like putzing around sans bebes. While I was there, I of course had to check out the kids’ clearance section and I hit the jackpot with clothes for the boys. Five button-downs (two matching sets) and two onesies for Buster for $50 WHAT. Sorry boys, but you’re going to have to dress alike.

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Lunch, a long walk, an easy but delicious dinner, and an ice-cream-and-movie-night with Bert (strawberry and Passengers and now I want my own Arthur and clean-up bots) and I feel like a new woman. It’s the simple things, folks.

Mother’s Day is kind of a weird holiday. You grow up celebrating it, but then once you have children you become celebrated yourself and it’s lovely and also a little strange, or maybe surreal is a better word. My family never subscribed to the Mother’s Day Brunch tradition (which I’m convinced is only nice if everyone is going to be well-behaved so we won’t be testing that one out any time soon), opting instead to go to the nursery together so my mom could pick out new flowers, so we’re trying to build our own Mother’s Day traditions. So far, I like this year’s the best: a quiet, leisurely solo jaunt to Starbucks filled with lots of reflection and motherhood goal-making, followed by a non-hustling walk and plenty of post-nap horsing around with the babies and a delicious, easy dinner, and very little in the chores and cleaning departments.

Today has been such a gift. Every mom is different, but for me, the gift of leisurely time to myself to recharge my batteries is wonderful. It makes me a better mama and a better human!

Motherhood is hard, guys. Hats off to all of the mothers out there (or maybe hats on if they’re going to have to pick up the aforementioned hats off the floor). Being a mother has definitely increased my appreciation for my own mother, and for the mothers in my village. We literally wouldn’t be here without our mothers, or their mothers, or their mothers (how’s that for existential?) so, you go moms.

On this First Mother’s Day Being a Mother of More Than One Child, I am so grateful. I love being a mom–I’m shocked at how much I love it, actually. I never thought I would have two boy, and I never thought I would have two kids two and under and still want another one. These boys keep me on my toes, keep me honest, and keep me moving forward and trying to be the best I can be. We have our tough moments (I’m looking at you, yesterday’s two hour nonstop whine/cry jag), but most of our moments are glorious and hilarious and probably kind of gross.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms–the moms to babies on earth and in heaven, and those who are hoping to be mamas someday.

Also: preview of tomorrow’s post. Do you see what I see?

preview

On The Ranch

Why We Brand Calves

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It’s Monday (or it was, when I wrote this. The fact that I’m posting it on a Wednesday is a testament to how Monday it was). Usually Mondays aren’t so bad considering I basically work from home but man, today I’m dragging. Friday we branded calves, Saturday we went to a neighbor’s branding, and Sunday I spent most of the day baby showering one of my best friends, and then Bert and I took the boys to Mexican afterwards. It was a lovely, full weekend, but there’s a TON of laundry, a pile of dishes in the sink, grit on the floor, and my motivation to take care of any of it is nil.

But life is short, so I’m deciding I don’t care.

Now, speaking of branding…

Branding is one of the oldest traditions as far as raising cattle goes, and the spring branding season is a time for ranches to invite family, friends, and neighbors over to brand calves and have a meal. Some ranches have one big branding over an entire day or weekend, some (like us) have a few smaller brandings, and some ranches–particularly the large southwestern ones with thousands of  cattle spread out over hundreds of thousands of acres–will have weeks of branding each spring.

It struck me the other day that I’ve talked an awful lot about going to brand calves, or what the boys do while we’re branding calves, or the glory of Starbucks before branding calves, but I’ve never actually talked about why we brand calves.

Spoiler: it’s not just so I can take thousands of pictures of my studmuffin husband roping calves or my hilarious two-year-old running amok in his cowboy hat. Or so we have an excuse to get together for a fun day with neighbors, although that aspect of it makes it look a lot less like work.

The long and short of it is identification. Also, in some states (like ours) it’s the law. In the days before ear tags and the like, a brand was the only way to distinguish your cattle from your neighbor’s, and in the event that they got mixed or an animal got loose, a brand ensured that you knew which cattle went where. We still brand cattle today for the same reasons because while ear tags can get lost fairly easily, brands are permanent. Other forms of permanent ID (freeze brands, tattoos) are more for individual identification than owner identification.

Branding is often accompanied by vaccinations, and treatment of any sick animals since the calves are already roped. The cowboys know how to rope and handle the calves to minimize stress on the animals, and they hop right up and go back to their mothers once their turn is over.

Thus, even though cowboys are no longer trailing cattle thousands of miles from Texas to Montana, brands are still the most effective, long-lasting way to prove ownership and differentiate your cattle from your neighbors’. Cattle still get mixed, or are run together on grazing cooperatives. Branding is a great time to see to the health of the calves, too, and it’s a great time to spend with neighbors in the sunshine.

If you have any questions about branding at all, please comment here or email me!

Friday Favorites

Five on Friday

stroller cows

one: hallelujah the spring weather is back! We had a lot of snow and rain over the past week, and yes we needed the moisture and no I have no control over the weather but gosh we were going crazy. I’m glad to get back to going on walks in the morning with both boys and be able to play outside to shake our sillies out rather than having to deal with boredom- and confinement-induced toddler tantrums. We branded today and it actually got hot.

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two: shout out to my amazing husband, who kept the boys two evenings in a row so I could go out for a half hour of exercise. I’ve been trying really hard to stick to my workout routine, but it’s hard when it’s too cold to take Buster in the stroller, and naptimes are reserved for work only, so the treadmill hasn’t been happening (plus b.o.r.i.n.g.) Thankfully, Bert’s supportive of my quest to get back into shape a little faster this time (I miss my old pants!!!) and I’m still feeling the effects of two hard solo workouts in a row days later.

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three: one of my greatest friends is having her baby shower this weekend, and I’ve been planning my outfit for a while–dressing the postpartum bod with a limited wardrobe is no joke, plus I’m Type A. And, this is one of those social situations where I want to feel and look my best. We’ve all been there, right? Those gatherings where you don’t have anxiety, necessarily, but maybe it’s a group of people you don’t see much, or maybe it’s a little out of your comfort zone,  and you want to give yourself a little confidence boost. My outfit is planned (no boots and jeans for this fancy affair!), but I’ve always found I feel more put together when my nails are done. I’ve been meaning to go and get my nails done for months and months, but who has time for that, especially when the closest (and not the greatest) nail salon is twenty miles away? So I scooped up this little gel situation from Amazon and I can’t wait to try it! It’s gotten rave reviews from my friends and from beauty bloggers, so I’m excited to see if it will truly last a long time. Just to be safe, though, I’m waiting until after branding to do my nails. I’ll report back!

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four: speaking of dressing the postpartum bod, I had a little bit of sleepiness-induced trigger finger and ordered this dress from Brickyard Buffalo at around four am yesterday. Brickyard Buffalo is a flash sale site like Jane, but I find their items to be a little more unique and classic. I’ve seen dresses like this everywhere, but they’re always sold out, so you’d better bet I grabbed this one while it was in stock. It’s got full short sleeves, pockets, and a flattering cut, and I’m pretty darn excited for it to get here. I haven’t worn dresses in years, since they’re not that practical on a ranch, but I want a few items that are easy to wear while playing or running errands with the boys that will fit while I’m losing the Buster Belly. I’m trying to be very intentional about new clothing purchases as we, like the rest of the free world, are spring cleaning and bemoaning our (okay my) lack of discretion when it comes to certain purchases. Many Goodwill sacks and a huge ThredUp bag later, I am determined to only buy clothes that are filling a need, will get worn to death, or replacing a current item in my closet, and I think this will fit right in!

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five: #loveyourvillage. Mother’s Day is fast approaching, and this is such a beautiful idea. I balk at Mother’s Day being a gift-giving, must-have-brunch holiday. A gift is lovely, but most moms I know want a few things, in various forms, that aren’t gifts: recognition and appreciation, a little time alone, and a day where they don’t have to cook or clean. Being a mom myself, I know that just a little of these things goes a long way. So, love your village. Send a little card or give a little gift or bouquet to those gals in your life that get you through, or gift your mama friends the Coffee + Crumbs book, because it’s really lovely.

Happy Friday, and Happy Cinco de Mayo! I don’t think we’ll probably be having tequila, but I might go super #basic and make fajitas tonight like everyone else, plus I have a bunch of cilantro that’s about to go bad. Plus fajitas are deeeelish. And thanks, internet, for making me talk about fajitas after a dusty morning of branding because now I really, really want a marg.