Family · On The Ranch · Personal

Lately, Otherwise Entitled “Life is Crazy, It’s Beef Month, and I’m Slightly Obsessed with my Children.”

So, apparently I took an unintentional break from blogging. For awhile, I think things are going to be a little sporadic than I’d like round these here parts, but you never know, I might find some as-yet-undiscovered reserve of energy and time management and just get allll the things done! I’m trying to balance everything, and this is truly one of my favorite spaces, but when time gets short it’s one of the first things to go because time is usually short due to things that can’t go. I have faith that I’ll be back on a good schedule in a month or so! Until then, some things!

  1. First of all, Happy May! It’s Beef Month, so I hope I can get all my ducks (cows?) in a row and actually plan content for this month because I love May and I love beef and I love you so I want to combine all those things. But see #10 for why I might slack major.beef brockle cow
  2. So much cooking! We’re branding calves, which means feeding hungry cowboys, which means in the last week I’ve cooked three lunches for 15+. It may  not sound like a big deal, but having a full-blown lunch done (plus house picked up and tables clean and floors cleanish because #toddlers) by 10:30-11 is tough. But, we’re done branding Bert’s calves, so I don’t think I need to cook until next week when I’m fixing lunch for a neighbor’s branding. I enjoy it, but it takes up a lot of time.
  3. Sustainability! I have SO much amazing stuff to share with y’all, I’m honestly just having a hard time organizing it all. We’ll get there, though. I’d like to do a series about it, maybe starting at the end of May when things die down a little. Here is the link to the page about my position as a Sustainability Officer with the U.S. Farmer’s and Rancher’s Alliance!
  4. We have a pacifier-free toddler! Wacey has been in love with his Wubbanubs since the moment he was born, and we were stalling on getting him weaned from them because we were pretty sure it would be tough since transitions–formula to milk, bottle to cup, crib to bed, etc–have been hard for him, but nope. We started kind of gradually, first by implementing the “No wubs at any time except sleep time” rule, then mysteriously losing one (he had two, and we legit lost one. I thought we just sneakily left it in the truck but nope, that monkey’s gone), and talking about how it’s going to be time to get rid of them soon, but we were still stalling for sure.

    On Monday evening, we were playing and while Wacey had his head thrown back in laughter from a tickle attack, Bert said (quietly to me) “Yikes, his teeth are pretty bad.” And yes, y’all, they are. You can definitely tell that he’s a pacifier kid, and that’s okay, and I know his teeth will move back, but it’s pretty dramatic and I don’t want to set him up for any dental problems in the future, so we decided right then that it was time. We cut the pacifier off his last remaining Wubbanub, talked a little bit more about it, and that was that. He had a hard time falling asleep the first night, and wanted to keep the animal part of the wub with him, but since then it’s been smooth sailing. He’s talked about it a little bit, mainly in the context of Buster’s being okay to have a wub since he’s still a baby, but it seems like a nonissue and I’m so gosh darn proud of that kid.

    Next up: potty training because he really, really wants to go to preschool in the fall (I suspect because he thinks all school buses are “magical” and he’s obsessed with other kids) and he’s required to be potty trained for that (which is annoying, but I do get it). Wow. Apparently I had a lot to say about that.

  5. I started BBG last week, and guys? I kind of love it. I don’t love the half hour that I’m doing it, but I love how hard it is and how much it’s making me work in just a short period of time. Three workouts in and I’m so sore I can barely move, and it’s amazing. I’m not doing it to lose weight, really, but more to get some muscle tone back. Babies have made me soft and I want to feel strong again and feel good in my body. I’ve tried other workout programs in the past, but I think this is going to be the one that sticks because it’s so hard. Three days a week is about all I can manage for formalized workouts (I walk most of the other days, but I need weights with my “cardio” #notarunner). I’ve got the app and it’s great! It’s 12 weeks, so my goal is to stick with it for 12 weeks and then take progress photos and re-assess. I can’t wait to see how it goes!
  6. I’m obsessed with–I guess they’re called snapbacks now? Lord help me I’m getting unhip in a hurry. Anyways, they fit my big ole noggin better than a regular ballcap, and I want 500 of them to wear when I can’t be bothered (or it’s too windy) to fix my hair which–let’s face it–is nine out of ten days. So I ordered this baby, and I love it. Next on the wishlist: this cheetah numbermmb hat
  7. Every now and then there’s a day that works out way better than I planned, and we had that day on Friday. We had to drive to Ruidoso to the MVD and I wanted to get there at 8am when they opened because last time we had to wait for nearly four hours and it’s the only place to get a VIN inspection and woof. Anyways, we got it done and were left with way more time to kill than I thought. So, I stuck Bub in the stroller, and Wacey and I pushed him around midtown Ruidoso which is pretty adorable. We ate delicious multicolored ice cream, did a little shopping, and let every lady ever hold Buster and shake Wacey’s hand because how can you not? We didn’t step foot in a grocery store (only because Bert and I had a date night planned for the very next night so I knew I’d run into the store then ha) and just toodled around and it was lovely.
    ice cream
  8. I needed a few new items of more professional clothing for my upcoming USFRA trip to Vancouver, and I ordered this beautiful top to wear with skinny slacks (or nice jeans if it’s a little more casual) and heels and it’s perfect.peach embroidered top
  9. Buster still isn’t walking, but let me tell you what: tiny fat boyfriend is an indestructible climber and general wrecking ball. He is so much more wild and fearless than Wacey is–I think he’s just waiting on walking because he knows he’s going to give us a major run for our money once he’s vertically mobile. I know I already shared this picture on social media but can you blame me for posting it again??Buster the beautiful Ralph Lauren model
  10. I have some big stinkin’ news to share later this week (NO I am not pregnant), so stay tuned for that little piece of oh-so-exciting information. We need to inform all interested parties before I spill the beans on social media, ya feel?
  11. Another thing I’m excited for? This.
Family · On The Ranch

It Might As Well Be Spring

DSC_0016DSC_0021DSC_0027DSC_0032DSC_0063DSC_0078DSC_0082DSC_0051DSC_0002DSC_0006If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know that it’s branding season in New Mexico! This is, hands down, one of my favorite times of the year. It means spring is here, and gosh, it’s so much fun. It’s a chance for everyone to get together and have a good time while also getting work done.

If you’re new to the blog, or not involved in ag, let me give you the 30-second skinny on branding. If you know what’s up as far as branding goes, feel free to skip to the next paragraph! We brand our cattle to show ownership, and it’s one of the oldest traditions of ranching in the American West. It’s also a law in many states, and comes in handy to identify cattle if they get mixed with a neighbor’s. A brand is much easier to read than an ear tag, and unlike ear tags or buttons, a brand will never fall out or come off. There are two types of brands: hot iron brands and freeze brands. Hot brands are the traditional method, and use a branding iron heated either over a fire or an electric iron to burn a brand into the top layer of flesh to make a scar. It’s good to keep in mind that the flesh of a cow is much, much thicker than a human’s, so branding cattle is not the same as putting a branding iron on your own skin, and the vast majority of calves suffer no ill effects–not just eventually, but right away. Being away from their mothers for the short while it takes to brand seems to affect them more! Freeze brands are typically used for horses, or for individual identification on cattle in addition to a hot brand, and are done with an iron cooled to very low temperatures with liquid nitrogen. A freeze brand is different from a hot brand in that it affects the hair follicle, and causes the hair to grow back white. If you have more questions about branding, I’d be so happy to answer them!

This first branding was a blast. It was my horse client’s branding, so Bert came to ride a few of his horses that I’m selling so that I could get pictures and video for the website, and it’s always fun to have a mid-week day date with all of my boys. Wacey is old enough now to help a little, and had so much fun wrestling calves (while eating cookies simultaneously, of course, check out his right hand in the first picture) and being part of the crew. He kept saying “I a cowboy, mama! Like daddy!” and it was adorable. Buster enjoyed being cooed over by everyone there and trying his first cookie, and in true ranch kid fashion conked out about halfway through for a really good nap right there in the barn.

We have a lot more brandings on the docket, so we’re all excited to neighbor and get together with folks that we don’t see very often, or wish we saw more of! It’s fun to get up early, get everyone dressed and horses saddled, and drive out while the sun is rising with Yetis full of something hot, and the boys dozing in the backseat. It’s definitely one of my happy places!

You won’t see any pictures of the gather–we got there, and the boss asked if I could drive the cake truck to help guide the cows in because the way to the pens at his place can get tricky, and the cows sometimes miss the gate. I had no idea where I was going, and haven’t driven a stick in years but we got it done, and Bert assured me that when I was stopped trying to figure out where to go next (I didn’t see the open gate that was right there until the cows were pretty much on top of us) it just seemed like I was waiting for everyone to catch up.

Of course I was. I know what’s up. No confusion or mini-freakouts here. Not this gal.

My stellar cake wagoning aside, it’s Easter Week! We’re over here rejoicing about so many things, including warmer weather and rain in the forecast, dates with friends on the calendar, Easter festivities, and, of course, the wonderful sermons and messages that abound this week. This is a season of good news and hope and renewal for so many reasons, and kicking it off with a branding last Friday felt perfect.

PS: in the spirit of Easter, did you see the post about the boys’ Easter baskets? I can’t wait! Holidays are so magical and fun with little kids when they know what’s up. The anticipation and the excitement is contagious, and I’m so thankful for it.

Buster · Celebrate · Family · Personal

Happy Birthday Buster!

As I’m writing this, it’s been almost one year to the minute exactly since Buster was born! I remember that day a year ago so well–it was fast but not too, and easy as far as births go, and the recovery was so darn quick that I still can’t believe it. And that’s sort of how things have gone since then! Fast but not too, and easy.

Our biggest little cowboy is the happiest, silliest chunk I’ve ever had the privilege to know, although I do know I’m biased. His checkup is next week, but at his sick visit a month ago he weighed in at 28 1/2 pounds, so I’m putting my best on a prime 29 for his current weight. He wears mostly 24 month clothes, but finding pants to fit around his thighs is an adventure. He loves food (except whole fruit and juice, oddly?) and eating is the best part of his day. He’s not walking or even standing unsupported yet, but we’re not fussed because this kid is just not ergonomically designed for vertical movement currently, but it will happen. But, he can speed crawl and pull himself up a cruise a little bit, and his fine motor skills are top-notch. Also hilariously, he doesn’t speak. He just smiles. He has words he can say, he just doesn’t, and that’s how he rolls. He also has the most expressive little face–he scrunches and puffs and crinkles and grins and oh, I can’t even.

He, like his brother, is a pretty great sleeper, but also like his brother gets multiple teeth at a time (he’s currently working on all four top teeth) so sleep is rougher when he’s teething and I don’t blame him. We never actually really sleep-trained him; the big kicker for us was to get him OverNites diapers and once he stopped peeing though his pajamas at night, he stopped waking up (imagine)! He goes to bed around 6:45-7, and wakes up between 6:45 and 7:45 usually. He likes to sit and squawk and play in his crib for a bit in the morning, and is the happiest darn baby when he wakes up. He still takes a morning nap from about 9:30-11:30, and an afternoon nap from 1:00-3 or 4, depending on the day.

He and Wace are best friends so far, unless Wace is taking his stuff or dragging Buster around by the feet of his pajamas. They sit and make each other howl with laughter in the car and it’s even more hilarious because they laugh exactly the same, and from the front seat it’s impossible to tell who is actually laughing! He loves to play with everything, but especially blocks, doors, bigger trucks, books, and bead mazes. His favorite foods are spaghetti, peanut butter sandwiches, smoothies and fruit pouches (but no solid fruit?), quesedillas, chicken noodle soup, turkey, cheese–anything that’s  not sweet (besides ice cream and cake), mainly, he doesn’t discriminate! Oh and no carrots. Hates those things. Again–cooked carrots. Don’t blame him.

He’s such a joy. His bad moods are always hunger- or sleep-induced, and he’s so easy going. He’s still a major snuggler, and loves to be carried around. He will let any human every carry him, and is such a good sport when Wacey wrestles him.

Buster Jacob, I can’t imagine our family without you, and I can’t wait to see what sort of adventures we get up to this year!!1 Buster in cowboy hat2 swaddled buster3 buster in stroller4 mirror selfie5 buster carseat6 dino onesie7 buster branding wrap8 flapping9 bandana91 both boys branding92 cactus blanket95 rolls911 bronc riding bub922 brother kisses94 cowboy hat9111 stroller kisses93333 with daddy933 asleep at the wheel966 happy kid9666 toy car944 brother friends9222 fat rolls selfie96 rolls97 daddy smush98 bathtub fat rolls93 hugs977 lashes9777 blue eyeesz1halloweenz2feeding bubbaz3bathtunz4shoez5thanksgivingz6 mirror slefie oso9333 bed snuggles20180112_181650(0)20180214_124621(0)IMG_20180122_161943_541IMG_20180127_140310_628IMG_20180214_220025_736JohnstonFamily2018-17JohnstonFamily2018-35JohnstonFamily2018-32

Celebrate · Day in the Life · Family

Photo Every Hour: The Johnstons Go To Town

Y’all, it’s been a hot minute. I’ve acquired some new projects (more soon) and my consistency in scheduling in all areas of my life has really gone to the dogs and if those dogs are anything like my yelping, jumping, cow-chasing pack of pups, it’s not pretty. But, I think we’re getting into a groove a little bit which is exciting, and once I get everything figured out and get the go-ahead to share, I’ll let y’all know what’s going on!

Yesterday, we took the boys to town to kick off Buster’s first birthday week! It’s been a long time since all four of us were in town together–I usually go alone with the boys to run errands during the week–and it was such a great day. And not just because I got fancy coffee and didn’t have to cook a lick unless you count cutting peanut butter sandwiches into fun shapes with cookie cutters as cooking. In which case, hold my beer and call me Emeril. But really my water, because if I drink beer I fall asleep because #babies.

|seven|
Awake. And, I mean, everyone come see how good I look. Let me tell you what–springing forward isn’t my fave; it’s supposed to be light in the morning, after all! But awake, hair still wet from the night before, lookin’ goooood. (Side note: I just learned the trick of letting your hair sit with conditioner on under a shower cap for a bit in the shower, and then twisting it up into a tight Trunchbull knot overnight to dry it in the morning and guys, it has made my life 100 times easier on days that I need to fix my hair which are going to be more frequent soon. All that conditioner soaking in overnight and airdrying a bit cuts down on dryness and frizz and dry time so much. It’s a miracle if your hair, like mine, resembles something closer to Mufasa, the Beast, or a Brillo pad than an actual head of human hair.)

7am
|eight|
We’re all in the car, fixed up and heading into town! It’s 90 miles sooooo basically tiny road trip.8 am
|nine|
Selfie in the Starbucks mirror because it was really busy and I didn’t want to get caught taking selfies and I was too busy inhaling my coffee the moment I got it. Bert got a caramel latte, ps, which makes me giggle to no end since other than his few cl’s a year, he drinks his coffee blacker than tar. Also, the guy who turned him on to caramel lattes is the roughest, toughest, whiskey drinking-est cowboy I know, which makes my heart so darn glad. 9am
|ten|
We went to this cute little park/zoo in Roswell, and the boys loved it. It was almost empty since it was a little chilly by southeastern New Mexico standards, and it was so fun to stroll around with coffee watching Wacey go nuts over the animals and Buster go nuts over Wacey going nuts. It’s not a big zoo, and mostly has native animals like bobcats and owls and pronghorn, but he loved seeing animals up close that he usually only sees running (or flying) away while we’re caking cows or something.
10 am11am1
|eleven|
Another thing at the zoo? My dream pet. Seriously, sign me up for alllll the mini horses. 11am

|twelve|
Time for foooooood. Also known as Buster’s very favorite part of every day. We’ve learned we have to pace him or else he overeats and throws up spectacularly, so we make sure to give him pre-lunch so he doesn’t double-fist real lunch.
1pm
|one|
Food was inhaled and was delicious, although we really miss our favorite Mexican restaurant in Colorado–the irony is rich that we haven’t found anything quite as good 200 miles from actual Mexico.1 pm

|two|
I finally broke down and got a Sam’s membership–I’m sort of a diehard Costco devotee, but there isn’t one near us, and there are certain things that are so much more affordable when they’re bought in massive quantities (hi, 400 pounds of berries) and also make it a little easier to get staples once a month. We tried the online order and pick up, which worked out pretty well, and I’ll definitely use that option again. It was nice to not have to load the boys in the cart and spend an hour or more strolling around (and going way over budget because I buy all.the.things). I ordered mostly fresh stuff this time–chicken tenderloins, lots of fresh fruit and veggies, frozen fruit for smoothies, yogurt, pesto because my basil plant died, lunch meat, and six loaves of bread because my children are obsessed with peanut butter sandwiches.

We also made a stop to one of my very favorite places (Tractor Supply) because when ranchers go to the Big City they can’t stop at just one place. We grabbed dog food for our canine gang, buckets for the boys’ Easter baskets because I haven’t met a basket that isn’t destroyed or at least maimed in under ten minutes by my tiny frat bros, and a visit to the very best clearance aisle I’ve ever seen. I snagged matching jammies, a little birthday present for Buster, and got started on Christmas because when in Rome, buy Christmas gifts when they’re on massive sale  (if you know the Tractor Mac books, I found a big, all-metal model red Mac-y Farmall tractor on sale for $15 haaaaay and had to stop myself from buying all three that they had plus a giant combine but we’re not farmers soooo…)
2pm|three|
I have no picture of three because we were just driving home, again, so just picture the first car selfie but with two sleeping babes in the back and two worn out parents in the front. If we won the Powerball you’d better bet we’d hire a driver. Or a helicopter. Both. We’d get both.

|four|
Home again home again. The boys did their thing while I cleaned out the fridge (ew) and put up groceries and Bert fed horses and dogs. I’ll tell you what, we’re in a sweet spot where both boys can play together or separately for short spaces of time, and it’s a gamechanger. For awhile, it felt like I couldn’t do anything around the house when both boys were awake. It’s so fun to see what they like to do–Wacey bounces around, but Buster’s favorite place is the mudroom where all of the bigger trucks are.4pm 24pm

|five|
More Sunday evening shenanigans! And if you’re wondering why Wace is sitting on our dining room table playing with his train, it’s not because we’ve now reached that level of Country where we’re into feet on the table, but because Buster is a very efficient destroyer of train tracks and so we have to prevent him King Kong-ing his big brother’s trains for obvious reasons.5pm5pm 11
|six|
Informal dinner. We usually all sit down at the dining room table and have dinner at the same time, but that obvs didn’t happen (#keepinitreal). The boys were a little cranky from the weird schedule (check out the bags under Buster’s eyes), and Bert and I were both still full of deee-licious Mexican, so we turned on Lonesome Dove and let the boys eat whenever.6pm 16pm 2.
|seven|
Buster went to bed at 6:45 or so, and Wace and I went to read books not long after. Once the boys were both in bed and settled, I made a smoothie, Bert made a sandwich, and we sat down for some good old Netflix.
7pm 17pm 2
|eight|
Netflixing and working on some horse registrations for a client. We know how to party.8pm

|nine|
A book and bed. Town days always wipe us out!9pm

 

 

Celebrate · Family

Wacey is THREE!

Today is our biggest little cowboy’s third birthday, and all of the cliches are true. I can’t believe how fast time has gone, I can’t imagine life without him, he’s the funniest little boy I’ve ever met, and he will always, always have my heart as the boy who made me a mama.

Three years ago at the time this post is published, I was tired after having been up since the very wee hours with what I suspected were actual labor pains (I was right). I was fussing about my hospital bag, and whether or not it was actually time to head to the hospital (it was). We didn’t know that it was going to be a long day, and that I should have eaten more for breakfast and maybe stopped at Starbucks on the way into town, or that just after eleven that night we’d be a family of three, all of a sudden. We did know, though, that it was a big day, maybe the day, and we were so right.

Our Wacey James is a chocolate-loving, giggling, ranchy goofball. He spends his days playing with anything with wheels, making up stories about his toys, reading books, visiting the horses, getting up to hijinks outside, eating snacks, palling around with me and Buster in the stroller or with daddy is the pickup, and watching movies since that’s the only way we can get this busy boy to slow down. He’s constantly looking after Buster (to make sure he’s safe and also not playing with any of his favorite toys), making him laugh, and letting us know when he’s up to no good with a very loud “Oh no Buster!”

He’s got his colors down, and we’re almost there on numbers (seven and nine are elusive), and he’s so excited about letters–he’s got W (“double Wacey”) and B (“B Buster”) down, and since he’s now memorizing his books and telling them back to us I bet the other 24 letters aren’t far behind. He’s not potty trained but I’m not fussed in the slightest–this boy learns and does everything in his own time, and when he’s got something down, that’s the end of it, so I know it’ll happen sooner or later and I won’t push him because it’s never once helped. He never crawled, and has run since he figured out to walk and has been talking a mile a minute since he learned how to speak.

Wacey has always been an easygoing sweetheart. He’s three, which means we have our fair share of fits and tantrums, and his palate is…limited, but even when he’s in a sour mood, his fallback is exuberant and it rubs off on all of us. I love how he walks into our room in the morning and says “Awake.” with this silly little smile, and his next words are to ask for breakfast. Or how he gets this specific look on his face when he’s asking for something he knows is a long shot, or how he reminds me regularly that Gaucho is not a toy, he’s an animal, after we had a conversation about how he can’t just assume Gaucho is going tolerate being treated as a practice bronc. He says the funniest things, like most toddlers, but of course I’m convinced he’s the funniest. He just ran into my room and yelled “TEXAS!” because that, for some reason, is what he calls “Bob Wills is Still the King,” and he wants to dance, and of course I’m off to go do that immediately.

I could go on and on about this sweet boy forever. But, I’ll leave it here, and say happy birthday to my first born, my blue-eyed boy who looks just like his daddy. I’m so excited to celebrate you, sweet boy, today and at your party this weekend, and every day in between and after that.

JohnstonFamily2018-28DSC_0256DSC_0163sollystandingDSC_0490DSC_0979stroller babyDSC_1254crawlingwatchingDSC_0743wacey helping nwssmoose hatDSC_07599am (2)notesbdayWace buxwaceboys20171212_075752(0)DSC_2134

 

Family · Personal

Family Pictures

Last (last) weekend, a momentous event occurred.

Picture it: all four of us. Clean, wearing real pants (or a skirt in my case), hair fixed, real shoes on…the whole nine yards. Up drives a flatbed pickup. To our front door. And out steps…Oprah Winfrey.

Just kidding. She’d never drive around in a truck. Well, maybe she would out here because these roads are hazardous to car tires as the two flat tires on my Subaru can attest.

But, I digress.

Oprah didn’t show up. What really happened was that we got our family pictures taken, which might make me even more excited? We worked with an amazing local photographer, Dunlap Photography, and I’m so tickled that we found such a dynamite photographer in our dusty little corner of the world. Especially one that comes all the way out to our house! The UPS guy doesn’t even come all the way to our house.

The Schwann’s guy does, though. Just in case you’re wondering.

Anyways. Jaymie came out and shot a pile of amazing pictures and I’m so thrilled. It’s been a long time coming–we should have gotten them done months and months ago! It was hard to narrow down my favorites, but I put in the work just for you because I know how invested y’all are in our family pictures.

(Okay, not, but hey, at least these prove that I do have actual hair.)

Disclaimer: if you follow me on Insta, I’ll be sharing these nonstop for, well, ever. Or at least until our next sesh. Sorry, but not sorry.

JohnstonFamily2018-62JohnstonFamily2018-20JohnstonFamily2018-35JohnstonFamily2018-53JohnstonFamily2018-42JohnstonFamily2018-19JohnstonFamily2018-8JohnstonFamily2018-39JohnstonFamily2018-58JohnstonFamily2018-15JohnstonFamily2018-57JohnstonFamily2018-31JohnstonFamily2018-61JohnstonFamily2018-18

I can’t get enough of the ones of the boys, especially. Oh, how I love this little ranchy frat house family of mine. I’m already excited for our next sesh!

Bert’s and Wacey’s shirts: plain old white pearl snap Wrangler
Buster’s shirt and jeans (that barely buttoned): Oshkosh
Wacey’s boots: Old West
My skirt: Francis + Benedict (CHECK. THEM. OUT.)
My shirt: Ralph Lauren

 

Family · On The Ranch · Personal

Back in the Saddle

DSC_0038
IMG_0101
DSC_0051
DSC_0047
DSC_0053

Every mama I know marks the first years of motherhood by a series of milestones not only for the baby—first bath, first laugh, sitting up, crawling, walking, speaking—but for herself. It starts small—first time to the grocery store with the kid(s). First time out without the kid(s). First time exercising, first time sleeping well, first time you start to feel like yourself again. First time some of your old clothes start to fit, first time out with girlfriends, first time you realize that you’ve got this, whatever this is.

And then comes the bigger things: maybe first time back to work, or first time deciding that you are going to stay home. First time starting a small business so you can stay home. First time realizing you’re in a routine, and not only can parenting be wonderful, but it can also be really fun. I love the firsts, especially around the fourth month when the baby’s personality starts coming out, and mine starts coming back. Then, even though there are the inevitable hard days and meltdowns and breakdowns, at least I feel like myself doing it, and not a weird sleep-deprived zombie blob who doesn’t know what she’s doing.

Now, don’t think I don’t feel like a weird sleep-deprived zombie blob after ze bebe in question is four months old. Because sometimes, or lots of times, yeah, totally. But around 4-6 months, I’ve found (the two whole times that I’ve done this) that things start to level out, and I start feeling more the Cassidy the Mother instead of someone I don’t know very well who is surviving and taking care of all the things but isn’t very connected to herself because hormones and alien skin pouches and newborn sleep cycles and pumping and oh yeah getting the hang of a whole other person. You know?

(Cassidy the Mother [is this an allegory?] sounds weird, ya? I can’t say Mama Cass for all of the obvious reasons. Or, maybe I should say Mama Cass for all the obvious reasons.)

So. We have babies, and every time we come back to ourselves, our husbands, our children slowly, slowly, and then faster and faster and bam! We’re back, baby. Or at least back enough, because I was talking to a teenager (young adult? I don’t know, the kid was in college), and I’m never going to be that back. That ship sailed awhile ago, but the land on the horizon disappeared almost exactly three years ago and there’s no going back.

I’m not sad, though, because golly the fraughtness (that is a word; I say so) and the drama and the uncertainty of being that age. No thank you, hard pass, been there done that, no mas.

Anyways. I’ve had two babies. Each time I’ve gone through almost the same milestones for myself and watched for the same for my babies. Yesterday, I hit another one, and it made me very contemplative, as these things can do.

Bert looked at me on Saturday and said “Let’s ride tomorrow.” And after thinking of all the reasons we shouldn’t–so much to do–I said “Let’s.” I’m not going to tell you how long it’s been since I’ve been horseback. This isn’t a huge, huge deal to me, to be honest, because I know it’s a season and someday, when the kids are all in school, I’ll ride as much as I want.

But, as my husband helpfully pointed out, if I waited oh, ten years to ride a horse it would be a) a travesty because we ranch for heaven’s sake b) ridiculous because we have nice horses and I really enjoy it, and c) I’d have to pretty much start over, at least muscle-memory-wise, in a ten-years-older body, and I hate starting over, and feeling old, so better now than later. So, we snuggled Buster in the stroller, saddled some horses, and rode in the round pen. Wacey played in the pen next to us, roped with Bert, rode with me, and it was prettttty amazing.

When we were done, the horses were put up, and I was sitting on the sofa marveling at how tired I was because Lord, we used to ride all day, I remarked to Bert that I felt good riding, that I felt like I actually had a pretty good seat, which was surprising considering the muscles that are used for riding are also the ones that are pretty consistently wrecked by pregnancy and childbirth, and I’m not exactly exercising consistently. I expected him to laugh a little and say something nice while also saying no, I looked like a sack of potatoes, but he said “I thought so too. I think you looked better than before, actually.” Friends, that was great to hear, because so many things are so hard after having a baby, and it was nice to have something be not so hard. Or that getting back in the saddle was, really, just getting back in the saddle and picking up where I left off, or maybe even a little ahead.

Motherhood has consistently reminded me that I can do hard things, that the human body is amazing (but also gross), and that getting back into things that remind me about myself are very, very important.

Which leads me to this aside: If you saw my stories yesterday, you’ll also know that my riding pants finally fit, which is a BFD for me because if you know me at all, you know I have very specific ideas about how work/riding pants should fit, and that I hate buying new pants, and that I found my last few pairs of these unicorns at a tiny feed store in Pennsylvania, and that they’re the last jeans to fit, usually, because of how they fit and the lack of stretch.

I don’t think we need to “bounce back” after baby (ew, stop), but for me it’s so nice to feel at home in my favorite clothes again. And to not have to wear unacceptable pants to ride in.

So, if you’re a mama who is in the early days, or wondering when you’ll recognize yourself, it will happen. It can take a long time, or a not-so-long time, and it can definitely vary by kid. If you’re a mama, or any person, really, that is worried about getting back in the proverbial or literal saddle, do it. Take a leap of faith! It might work out, it might not (like the last time I tried to put on my riding pants, or actually buy everything on our grocery list with both boys in tow), but at least you’ll know that it’s not time yet, and to try again soon.

Happy Monday! Try something new this week!