Celebrate · Family · Home · Personal

Big News

capitanphoto cred because I failed to take a single picture during our interview *facepalm*

Big new’s y’all! Sorry for the radio silence but the last few months have been full of real life and some hard things, and I needed to take a break. But, I’m missing blogging and some big changes are happening around these here parts and I’m excited to document this new chapter the boys and I (and the dogs, and the horses, and maybe an errant barn cat or two) are about to start.

We’re moving! Bert got a job working for a ranch in Capitan, New Mexico, so we’re packin’ up and movin’ out. We jumped some of the major hurdles this week (navigating the health insurance marketplace…#woof) and it’s starting to feel a lot more real and exciting. It wasn’t an easy choice, and I have a lot to visit with y’all about, but it’s new, and it’s fresh, and sometimes we really need that. This is the path that God has put us on, so I have faith that it’s a good one. Stay tuned!

Celebrate · On The Ranch

Miss’ First Mother’s Day

Miss and Little 1
far away
Miss and Little 4
steve
Miss and Little 5
Miss and Little 3
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Miss and Little 2

Guess who got to celebrate her first Mother’s Day yesterday? Our mare, Miss! Her little baby girl was born late last week and I am one proud horse grandma! She’s beautiful. I’m sorry for the poor quality pictures, I took these with my phone but will get out with my big camera this week.

So far, it looks like everything is great–babe’s walking and running around, and Miss is a wonderful mother. It’s so fun to see her be so attentive to her baby. The other horses are a tiny bit jealous of all the attention we’re paying to Miss and Little, though, I think, because Steve was a major camera hog.

We haven’t named her yet, but she looks just like her mama! Welcome to the family, Little Miss!

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.

breakfast

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.

shirts

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.

selfie

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

Celebrate · Family · On The Ranch

Weekend and Caking Cows

family photo

watching daddy

mirror
driving
window

This post brought to you by a full night of uninterrupted sleep. Yes. Buster slept from 10:30 pm to 6:00 am and while that’s still a little short for me, I will 100% take it because I didn’t have to wake up in the middle of the night to feed, burp, or change him. I am also 100% certain this was a fluke because he was awake so much yesterday with an upset tummy, and he isn’t even six weeks old yet so I know better than to hope for this to stick, but it’s refreshing and lovely to know that it is, in fact, possible, and that there is a light at the end of the long, dark tunnel that is months of nighttime shenanigans.

He also could have been worn out from the weekend because what a weekend! Saturday we ventured down to the Big City to see Bert’s cousin get married and to visit with his mama’s family. Wacey wore himself out wrestling and dancing with his cousins, and Buster was handed around for hours. I had two mimosas, and we sort of got a family picture. It was a win-win. We stopped and visited with friends on the way home from town, so it was a very long, social day for us!

Yesterday was a slower day–somehow, by the grace of God, both boys slept until 8:30, so we did, too! I spent the day trying to get more baby smiles out of Buster, putzing around the house, doing wash and starting giant piles for ThredUp and Goodwill, and cleaning the upstairs bathrooms that hadn’t been cleaned since before Buster was born…ahem.

Then, once the boys were up from their naps, we all went out together to cake cows–a first as a foursome! Wacey, of course, loves to cake cows (imagine!). He is a little boy that wants pretty badly to be grown–there are so many things he wants to help with and do, but just can’t yet, and it makes him so sad. For now, we’ve found a (likely temporary solution) in encouraging him to watch Daddy very closely when he can’t help so that he can learn what to do when he is big enough, which is why he spends a good amount of time with his face glued to a truck window. It’s pretty safe to say that Bert will have a little shadow as soon as Wace is old enough to be horseback by himself!

We’ve got a busy week ahead of us on the ranch–we’re hoping for two brandings, weather permitting, plus a day of breeding cows. Thrown in there is my six week postpartum appointment, a party, and the requisite I’m-in-town-so-I-have-to-go-to-a-store-I-don’t-normally-go-to Target or Costco run. After a slower winter and the post-baby lazy period, it looks like life is back in full swing!

Happy (hopefully warm) Monday!!!

 

Celebrate

Grafting Calves

Hey hey! I’m currently sitting out on the porch in 55-degree (albeit overcast but I’m not complaining) weather, watching a very happy birthday boy play with his new sandbox. We always think we know what he’ll love, but we’re often wrong (#toddlers). This time, though, we hit it out of the park!

(PS I think I may have found a jogging stroller, *knock on wood* so, you know, pray for me. Craigslist is ruthless.)

So. We’ve had three sets of twins here, plus a twin from another camp. That’s a lot of extra babies, y’all. I thought I’d visit with you about how we handle all that extra furry goodness since most beef cattle, especially heifers, don’t milk enough to raise two calves. It’s better for a cow to raise the calf–we could bottle-feed it with milk replacer until it’s old enough to eat grass and grain, but those calves never grow as well, and that’s a lot of extra work! Plus I’m a softie and it makes me sad when a calf doesn’t have a mama, and when a mama is missing her calf.

How do we get “extra” cows?

We’ll get right to it: calves die. It’s a fact of life and obviously something we try to avoid, but sometimes there’s just nothing to do. They might be stillborn, or have some kind of defect that makes them unable to live for very long, or they might get stepped on, etc. Sometimes they just get too sick and don’t respond to treatment, and sometimes they are affected by a traumatic birth and we can’t save them. Or, they could get killed by a coyote–we’ve lost one to a coyote this year, and this is why we’re very serious about predator control. So, that leaves us with “extra” cows sometimes, and we make these cows into graft (foster) mamas.

Sometimes the reverse happens, and we come up with an extra calf because it doesn’t have a mama. There are some instances where we have to play child services, and take a calf away from a cow because she is unfit to be a mother. Sometimes, she rejects the calf and tries to hurt it, other times she becomes aggressive after calving and is too dangerous to keep around, or she may not produce enough milk to raise a calf. Occasionally, cows will die and orphan a calf.

(Once, we had a cow die of pneumonia when her calf was a couple months old and I took care of feeding him. His name was Zeke and he was HUGE, and would drink 2-4 bottles a few times a day, plus grass & grain. When we got him a new mama, he was already so big that he had to get on his knees to nurse! I miss Zeke.)

If a calf dies and there is no graft calf available, Bert will milk the cow himself to keep her milking. This also comes in handy if a calf is needing to be bottle-fed for some reason because it helps us use less milk replacer, which saves money, and the real deal is always best. He won’t do it indefinitely, of course, but a couple weeks, maybe.

When it comes time to graft, there are a lot different methods that people use, and sometimes you have to try several things; there’s really no “right” way. Usually Bert’s method is to hobble the back feet of the cow, and put the cow and her graft calf in a small, quiet pen together for a few days with plenty of good feed and water and a healthy application of Orphan-No-More. Hobbles ensure that the cow doesn’t kick the calf while it’s trying to nurse, since the mom’s instinct is to not let any calf nurse but her own. Letting the calf nurse helps it smell like the mama, and helps her understand that the calf nursing will alleviate the discomfort of a too-full milk bag (mamas who’ve nursed, you know all about how good getting engorged feels!). It also gives the calf confidence and try, and keeps it vigorous and healthy. The Orphan Powder, as we call it, helps with the scent issue as well, and helps the mama bond with the calf since she’s inclined to lick it off.

bijou-graft-pair^^ This was shortly after Bert took the hobbles off of this cow, and she and the calf are now in the pasture with the rest of the pairs!

A shot of oxytocin (yes, the same hormone as in humans) can also help, especially if it’s been a little while since the cow had a calf and needs help with her milk letdown.

bijou-graft-pair-2
Some cows don’t need much in the way of convincing, though–this cow wanted a calf so badly, and these two took to one another right away.

If he has a cow with a calf that’s very recently deceased, Bert skins the dead calf (I know, it’s a little shocking, but hear me out), and ties that skin to the graft calf. It sounds strange and maybe a little gross, but it’s got a very high success rate and that’s what matters. The new calf smells precisely like the old one, and we only need to leave the hide on for a few days.

betsy-the-calf-graft-outfit^^ This is Betsy, a calf from when we lived in Montana. You can just see the edges and the twine of her “graft oufit.”

Other methods involve different substitutions for Orphan Powder, like milk, blood, even molasses, and different methods for feeding the calf–some people catch the cow in a chute several times a day and let the calf nurse that way, or milk the cow and bottle-feed the calf.

Most of the time, we can convince the cow to take on the graft calf, and they’re both better off for it. Sometimes, one or the other will refuse, and then it’s back to square one. With a herd as large as ours, we almost always have a mama available, even if we need to take a calf to another camp or vice-versa.

So far, all our mamas have calves (either adopted or biological), which is great. Bert’s been lucky this year and hasn’t had trouble getting grafts to take, so our pasture of pairs is full of happy and healthy mamas and babies who are happy to be with one another, and he’s not having to bottle-feed any calves, which is a major win.

There you go! Add “Bovine Social Worker and Expert Familial Matchmaker” to the list of hats that ranchers wear. Now we can just hope that the rest of calving season goes just as smoothly as this first month has!

Celebrate

Friday Favorites

It’s Friday! I’m glad. You’re probably glad. If you’re not glad, I’m sorry. Maybe go get some ice cream? Or Starbucks? Or a whiskey?

I’d love all three, to be honest, but only two are available to me at this present juncture.

I hope your week was great! My week felt long. It’s funny…in the third trimester, you’re both willing time to stop and for it to speed up, and this week felt like exactly that. I’m planning on knocking some baby to-dos off of the list this weekend, though, so I think that will help my ability to relax. Right now, though, I’m dreaming of life post-pregnancy. I’m not wishing away these last weeks in the slightest, but y’all? I feel huge, my hips are killing me, and I miss my waist. And, as nervous as I am about doing the newborn thing again, we cannot wait to meet Bub and just snuggle the heck outta him. Nine months is a long time to know everything about a person without ever meeting him, and I’m getting impatient. Will he favor me, or Bert, or will he be like Wace and be halvsies? Will he have as much hair as his brother? Will Wacey fall in love with him right away, or try to kill him for awhile? I’ve been assured of the latter, but that boy of mine loves babies so much that maybe we’ll get lucky.

Anyways. Favorite things.

Before I jump into postpartum dreaming favorite things, I wanted to share one thing that has helped so much this week. Lavender oil. I’ve had trouble sleeping lately, partially due to being 30 weeks pregnant, and partially due to Bert night calving two nights this week–I don’t sleep as well when he’s not home, and it’s so rough to be tired! I’m not ready for that business yet. But, after putting a dab of this on each wrist right before bed, I’m out in a hurry and I have a much easier time falling asleep if I wake up in the night. I don’t know if it’s a fluke or not, but I don’t care because it works and it smells so good! I’ll likely throw it in my hospital bag to help calm those baby day nerves.

lavender

PS–speaking of Baby Day, I’ve reached the point where the doctor is talking about it, and we’re making plans for when it’s time. On one hand, I’m so excited. On the other hand, I’m running around with my fingers shoved in my ears yelling “I’m not listening!” and humming. Not, literally, of course, as I can’t really run at the moment.

Anyways, figurative running and confused emotions aside, here are some other things that have my heart all a-flutter this week.

Favorite frivolous baby item: Bison swaddle set. We have so many swaddle blankets, but I might get this for Bub, or at least the Bison one, because I just love them, and it never hurts to have a little something new for a new babe. Wouldn’t a newborn cowboy look so sweet snuggled up in those??

bison-swaddle-set
Favorite Flowy: Francis and Benedict Aztec Maxi. I have nowhere to wear this. But gosh, isn’t it beautiful? I think it would be perfect for post-baby, too–a wide waistband and a flattering cut are excellent for that particular problem area. Maybe for my class reunion this summer? Or for a wedding? Or a baby shower? Actually, maybe I do have a place to wear this!!! Plus, this company is doing really great things! And also: pockets.
View More: http://carolinero.pass.us/francisandbenedict
Favorite Festive: Paint chip egg banner. Easter will be our  first holiday as a family of four, and I know Wace will actually want to egg hunt this year! I got a few decorations at after-Easter sales last year, and you’d better bet I’ll have them up as soon as possible, maybe before Bub’s even born so I don’t have to deal with it after. We have a spot in the house where I hung a banner at Christmas, and I loved how festive it looked, so this is definitely on the docket for Easter. I plan on doing this one for Valentine’s!

garland-eggs

Favorite…what?? I’m not even sure what I love about this outfit, except that it looks so easy and there is a waistline involved, and although I have very little of it in my closet, olive is such a pretty color. Mostly, I think it’s waistline envy–I cannot wait to get back into my old jeans! Or real jeans, period. Remember when bending over was a thing?!? I don’t.
jeans
Favorite Footwear: Kork-ease Berit wedges. OH MY HEAVENS THESE SHOES. I’ve been thinking about them since last summer, which is a sure sign I need to get a pair. I think these would look adorable with skinnys, and they’re leather, and a wedge, so I could wear them to a rodeo right? Right. I have not one single pair of wedges left from my college days, and if I’m going to be the only girl round these here parts I think I deserve a pair! If anyone knows my husband, maybe direct him thisaway for Mother’s Day??

kork-wedge-sandal
Favorite Feminine: Lace Tunic. Isn’t this gorgeous? Also looks like it would go great with a newborn and a toddler! Kidding, kidding. I think this would be another great still-losing-weight postpartum option, and I love how it nips in at the waist. It’s also a really beautiful option to go under a blazer with some jeans and boots, which are, of course, another one of my love languages.

lace-top

Favorite Hair: Updo for short hair. I’m not going to kid myself that I’m going to be able to fix my hair a lot after Bub is born, and I bet me and my already good friend Dry Shampoo will become busom buddies. This is pretty for when you want to do something other than a messy bun and haven’t washed your hair in awhile. Read: new mama. Or, when your hair resembles a bird’s nest and not in a good way. It’s the little things, folks, plus this one comes with a tutorial for all-thumbs folks like me.
updo
Favorite Favorite: Solly Baby Wrap. One of my favorite memories from when Wacey was bitty was carrying him around in this wrap, and I can’t wait to carry Bub in the same one. I love having babies snuggled up so close and tight, and newborns are so tiny and precious!

wrap

Thank you for reading, and have an excellent weekend! Mine will be full of–what else–house cleaning, organizing, baby-clothes-washing, baby calves, and let’s get real, probably Starbucks. Because at this point, I will drive thirty miles for one and I’m not even that ashamed.

Celebrate · Home · Personal

New Year’s Non-Resolutions

2017-planning

Spoiler Alert: I’m not making any.

I do love to see how other people structure their goal setting/wish wishing for the year, and so I’m sharing what’s in my goal/hope/wish headspace heading into this new year. Plus, maybe it will keep me accountable!

I have hopes, and some goals, but I am not making any out-and-out resolutions because I’m setting low expectations. Not “low expectations” like “I don’t expect much from this year,” but “low expectations” like “I’m having another baby, giving me two very young children, and I have no idea what to expect.” This doesn’t mean that I’m going to let 2017 laze by, but that if I need to rest and just be a little more than usual, that’s okay. I’m also trying to be okay with uncertainty, because there is so much that I just can’t know about this year. We’re having a baby and other changes and events are going on that are completely out of my control, and I need to be okay with that.

I am choosing a word for the year, though, and it’s grace.  Grace to trust in the Lord that everything will be okay, grace to rest, grace to give to others and to myself, grace to ask for help when I need it, and grace to extend in situations where, in the past, my reaction might have been less than graceful. Ahem.

Hopes and Goals and Some Things That Must Happen Come Hell or High Water:

1. I would like to de-clutter and organize our entire house, because I know come, oh the middle of March, I will appreciate simplicity and having everything in its place. So far, I’ve tackled the master bath, the downstairs, and most of the kitchen, and it feels so good. Bert and I also organized the root cellar where we store decorations and things we don’t often use, and that was great since we can actually see what’s down there now!

2. Within my word for the year, I would like to keep exercising and eating healthfully. I know I won’t have a six-pack by June (or ever, probably), and that’s okay. That’s starting with being healthier and moving as much as I can throughout my third trimester, which is no mean feat, but I did a fitness challenge last month that helped me understand how much better my body functions when I’m fueling it properly, and not with, you know, cookies and Christmas candy. This means lots of fruit and veggies, and plenty of water and protein. I also have realized that I have to work out in the morning, or it won’t happen!

3. I would really, really like to keep up with and grow this blog. This means sticking to a pretty regular posting schedule, and planning posts in advance so I’m not scrambling to come up with content.

4. I would also really like to learn more about my camera in general and exposure, specifically. I have an aunt who is a photographer who has agreed to help me with this, bless her, because it all feels so beyond me!

5. I would like to be more efficient with spending and my saving, as I am the primary banker in our family. Put this solidly in the “Things That Must Happen” category. Baby-birthing years are always expensive years, and we are probably going to be working with a tighter budget this year, but I would like to try to keep saving at the level we have been. This goal includes continuing our “Christmas Present/Birthday Fund” at a slightly higher rate, and paying off our pickup. Finances are one of my greatest sources of stress, so if I can alleviate any of that, I will. For me, this means no impulse spending, and spending a little less on groceries, which means less rushed trips to the store and more solo runs with a list and coupons. Also known as sticking to the gosh darn budget. Also known as not my gosh darn forte.

6. Along with #4, I want more pictures of my boys, and more with me in them. If this means setting up my camera on the tripod, so be it. I’m also planning on hiring a photographer (please Thea tell me you can come out this spring!!) to do our first pictures as a family of four. I really am sad I didn’t hire her to come out this fall to do pictures!

7.  This is the most important: I would like to spend more time with the Lord. I think I’ve set myself up for success in this area by gifting myself the Anchored Press Devotional Planner–planner and the word all in one. Even if it’s just ten minutes a day, it helps so much. I like the idea of looking at my plans and calendar for the week with scripture built right in. It helps to keep me grounded instead of overwhelmed!

8. Ask for help, and trust people to help us with our kids. One date night a month is my goal to start–it would be so fun to be able to do this weekly, but it’s not feasible in this season. We’ve gotten into a routine on the weekends where we rent a movie or a put one on hold at the library, and we stay up and watch it and have dessert together. It’s an at-home date night that’s really great.

9. Be more intentional with my time–there’s no way I’m going to be the mama and wife and girl boss that I want to be if I waste time watching TV and mindlessly scrolling through social media on my phone. We’re getting rid of satellite TV this year, so that will help, but gosh I waste so many hours doing absolutely nothing for absolutely no reason! This also means that I’m going to try hard to minimize working on the weekends. Some times of the year this is almost impossible, but I want to be present with my boys when we’re together instead of being distracted by work or my phone. It’s not good for any of us!

10. Self care. When I feel good about myself, and am getting the rest and alone time I need, man oh man I am an exponentially better wife and mother. For me, this looks like finally admitting I need to invest in quality beauty skin, and hair care products, and getting ready (to varying degrees) each day, as well as making sure I’m getting exercise and spending a little time alone each day. And, sticking to my Mama’s Day Out for my birthday (and maybe Mother’s Day?). I look forward to that day all year!

Things that would be nice but aren’t “goal” status include finding a dresser to replace the upstairs TV stand–refinishing is a bonus; finding the perfect blazer and making tooled leather accents for it; finding a new long down coat to replace my falling-apart one; fixing my too-short curtains upstairs, and changing out the knobs on the boys’ dressers.

After finishing this list, it’s clear that I want to make lifestyle changes this year more than accomplish tasks–simplify, take care of myself and my people, keep a handle on our finances, and spend good quality time with my tribe. And, of course, share our life with y’all!

Happy 2017! May your planners be merry and your calendars be bright, and your coffee be strong! PS–if someone wants to bring me Starbucks, that would be great. Love, I’m Having Withdrawals Because We’ve Been In Town So Much Lately.