Home · Personal

Packing is Hard.

Like actually hard. My hiney is sore from umpteen trips up and down the root cellar steps.

Y’all, my brain is full. You know how it is, when you’re laying awake at three in the morning thinking about everything you need to get done? That’s how it feels alll the time right now. Not bad, just full of to-do lists and calendars and prayers and should-we’s and the like.

We’re knee-deep in the packing over here, and truly, I’m already heartily sick of it and we’re not even close to being done. We have, however, loaded up the dumpster twice, sent a load to Goodwill, set aside yet more for Goodwill, and emptied and consolidated what feels like a thousand totes, so we’re actually doing pretty great, right? #motivationalspeakerintraining.

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Fun fact: when you ranch, you’re probably moving with a stock trailer because #freetrailer and #uhaulisexpensive, so you invest in many of these because weather.

Things That Suck About Packing:
1. Everything.
2. Having to sort through every single thing you own and either pack, donate, or throw away.
2b. Being embarrassed by the sheer amount of junk and waste. It’s so depressing, and I am putting a major curb on our junk accumulation because never again. We consume too much. TOO MUCH. To be fair, a lot of it was stuff from college or from our parents’ houses that hasn’t seen the light of day in years, but still. Why did we keep it? Why did it come to this house with us? Like, why do I hold on to any of my heels? We live on a ranch for Pete’s sake, and I don’t even like heels when we’re not on a ranch. Ugh. I’m not a minimalist, but curating our belongings is the name of the game from now on.  PS I wear a size 9 so if you want free shoes…
2c. Having to sort and pack at the same time is horrendous, I will be sorting/purging/donating on a regular basis from now on.
3. Hauling everything everywhere. To the truck, to the dumpster, to the trailer, to the Goodwill. In July.
4. Trying to be sort of quiet about it because the boys are sleeping and nothing wakes a sleeping baby faster than packing tape, but also wanting to get a hustle on.
5. Sweating. See #3
6. Maybe hantavirus, because ranch root cellars=mouse town. Soooo much handsoap and wash happening around here. Also bleach. Need some more.
7. The pre-organization explosion. It’s like living in a Forever 21–so many things everywhere, constant sensory overload, and being so overwhelmed that you don’t even know where to start. But, finding some really cute things in the mess.

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But, even thought I hate packing, and all of the junk with moving to a new state (the healthcare marketplace UGH, changing cell and internet carriers, changing insurance agents, etc.) can be exhausting and annoying, don’t you just love a fresh start? I do. Bert doesn’t crave fresh starts the way I do, but I think he’s really looking forward to this one, too. We’ve learned so many things out of this hard season–and I’m sure we’ll continue to learn more–and so we’re trying to be super intentional with our packing and our donating/trashing so that when we get there, we aren’t weighed down by college notebooks and fourteen pairs of pajama pants.

There’s also the element of trying not to be a) super emotional and b) super overwhelmed. There’s something strange about bare walls and putting your whole life into boxes, and something overwhelming about seeing all the boxes and thinking about loading them into trailers and then unpacking them into an entirely new place.

We’re running on prayers and caffeine, tape and tag pens, but we’ll make it through!

 

Home · Personal

House Hunters Non-International

house.jpg

Happy Monday! We had such a great weekend of fellowship and friends. Although leave-takings are hard, we’re so blessed to have friends that are like family all over the place!

Today’s post is about something fairly unique to the agriculture (or maybe ranching specifically, I don’t know)–the housing. On a ranch, housing is part of a cowboy’s salary. This is the kicker with ranch jobs–when you move jobs, you move, and you don’t get to pick your house. And on ranches, you’re just not sure what you’re getting into with the housing situation, and a house can be a deal-killer or a deal-maker.

So, the interview process for cowboys is a little different than for jobs in town. Often, the spouse/partner goes, too, even if they will not be working for the ranch. The interview rarely involves sitting in an office and hardly ever involves a suit. Most of the interview will be conducted in a pickup, and maybe over lunch at the local diner. The wife will go to meet the boss and maybe his wife, ask questions the husband may not think of (where are the schools and the churches? Is there any kind of grocery shopping nearby? How close is the nearest hospital/doctor’s office/decent-sized town/Starbucks/Costco?), get a feel for the area, quite importantly, check out the house.

You can bet while the men are talking shop and feeling each other out, the wife will be eagle-eyeing their potential future home and making notes about what it needs to feel like home (paint? Contact paper everywhere? 47 boxes of Brillo and a prayer? Maybe just a light scrub with something floral? Demolished? Absolutely nothing, sign us up right now?) This is especially true if the ranch is out in the sticks, which is pretty much the definition of a ranch. It’s no fun to be ready to move into a place and realize there are things you need before you move in and town is two hours away and waiting for the ole Amazon Prime box to show up isn’t an option.

I’ve called five different ranch houses “home”, ranging from a glorified actual homestead cabin with not a single kitchen cabinet for food storage and a bathroom wall that didn’t reach the ceiling thus making for some really interesting interactions with guests to a double-wide modular with ancient blue carpet to our current (wonderful) house.  It’s also the scariest part (for me) about job-hunting other than the actual job part, because a job could sound great–starting colts! No farming! A nice truck and trailer! Annual bonuses! Kids welcome! Angels singing on high! But then you might get there, and the house is (at best) a womp-womp of aged linoleum, sketchy kitchen appliances, outdated everything, and tiny closets, or (at worst) a haven for moldy carpet and water damage that’s basically a horrible case of hantavirus waiting to happen.

I’ve lived in both of those situations. While instilling much character and perspective and gratitude for better things, my overwhelming feeling about those (very) humble abodes is: no mas, por favor.

I might be exaggerating a little. Actually, retract that–I’m not. I haven’t had to live in anything truly awful, but I’ve known people that have (like rooms above the processing barn in a feedlot where you get to share your washer, or a trailer that was condemn-able when Nixon was president).

And because housing is part of a cowboy’s salary and most ranches aren’t rolling in money, what you see is probably what you get unless you want to put in money or have Junk Gypsy-level skills with various saws and spray paint (#lifegoals). Sure, they might be able to have the carpets cleaned and most places will allow you (or encourage you!) to paint (enter the Revere Pewter vs. Gray Owl conundrum). But if you don’t like the appliances, or the bathroom gives you the heebie-jeebies, you’re probably going to have to live with it.

I lived in a house once where the oven grossed me out so bad that I cooked everything in a little convection toaster oven. It actually worked out fine because I lived alone and practically lived on baked chicken breasts and homemade pizza, but for a family that just won’t do. Unless it’s a family of mice, which you can bet lived there too.

Again, no whining here, especially because I’m far enough removed from those houses that those times are character-building and funny. We have a lot of funny stories about birds flying in through the woodstove and then out through a broken window after much excitement, or the owner lighting a water heater with a lighter instead of the “use this to avoid explosion” starter, or a washing machine full of dog food brought there piece by piece by particularly doomsday-afeared mice, or finding various personalized wedding gifts heaped in a box in the kitchen that were left there after the previous occupants’ not-so-amicable divorce. In those situations all you can do is laugh and maybe do a little bemoaning of the fact that you didn’t share the same initials as the not-so-happy couple because some of those gifts were actually pretty cool.

Our new house, though, has none of those things, hallelujah! It’s definitely the newest home we’ve lived in, and looks the least likely to be secretly infested by mice (or rattlesnakes!) of any of our previous residences. I’m excited to share our transition from our big, old, sprawling house we currently live in to the much-smaller-but-super-functional house we’re moving to. I’m a little nervous but also excited about the challenge of purging and streamlining our belongings to fit in an entirely new space.

And also for dog kennels that aren’t right underneath the bedroom window because we got a puppy. His name is Scooter. And he bark-howls allllllllll the time.

 

 

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!

Family · Home · On The Ranch · Personal

We’re Back!

We’re back! Baby Buster was born almost three weeks ago, and it’s time for this mama to get back into the blogging game.

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I’m planning on sharing a little more about Buster’s birth soon, but long story short: he was born on the morning of Wednesday, March 15, less than four hours after we arrived at the hospital! He was a whopping 8 lbs, 7.5 oz (Wacey was 7 lbs, 1 oz so Buster was just a liiiiittle bigger) and 20 inches long. He’s already surpassed nine pounds, which is crazy, and he’s a pretty mellow little squish.

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sleeping

neck rolls

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Our last few weeks have been full of movies, snacks, books, snuggling, Amazon Prime, odd sleeping patterns, and we’re pretty smitten with both of these little boys! So far, Wace is all about being a big brother, and although it hasn’t been 100% smooth sailing (is it ever with a toddler?!), I think he likes Buster quite a lot. I’m excited for when B is a little less fragile because Wace really wants to hold him and carry him and play with him.

Wace holding Buster

We’ve done a couple of trips to the store (okay, one real trip, the other one was an excuse for Starbucks), and of course to the pediatrician for checkups, and while it’s a little harder to get us all out of the house–newborns need so much stuff, I think Buster’s just going to roll right on in with our crazy selves. I think he’ll fit in, though–he isn’t fazed by much so far, and loves being worn in the wrap which is to his benefit because he’ll be there all spring! Wacey’s been appreciating the extra time with Bert, too. They just left in their matching hats and jean jackets to go put up some fence, and you’d think it was Christmas Wacey is so glad.

park day

mama wace wrap

little cowboy

As lovely as playing a pseudo hermit has been, it’s time to get back to real life. I feel really good–the recovery has been vastly different this time, for which I am so, so grateful. I’m chalking it up to a much faster labor and less than a half an hour of pushing vs. over three hours, and staying in better all-around shape this time, and also God. We got lucky with the timing of Buster’s arrival and we’ve been able to take it pretty easy, and have Bert home more than usual. But, it’s springtime on the ranch, and that business waits for no one!

So, what’s coming up? Bert is done calving his heifers (yay!) but we have about 400 calves left to be born elsewhere on the ranch, so I’ll be busy getting calves entered into the database for a long while. I have 125 waiting on calving sheets to be entered this week already! We’ve set up our first group of cattle to breed (post coming!) and will breed them this coming Sunday, I’m counting that as my official return to work (even though I’ll put in a lot of hours this week at home!) and the end of being a hermit, haha. We have eight groups of cattle to breed, plus over a thousand calves to brand. All of this needs to get done before the middle of June, so our calendars are full. We were supposed to have branded calves already, but we’ve been getting snow and rain for over a week, praise the Lord! While it sucks to feel behind already, we really, really needed the moisture so we’re singing lots of hallelujahs over here regardless.

I won’t lie, though, I’m ready for sunshine–it’s hard for Wace to be cooped up all day, and it’s hard for me because he’s a toddler who’s been cooped up all day. Plus I can’t wait to take the Bob Duallie for a spin.

The next few months will be a mixture of baby things, family things, and ranch things, with some real Mom life thrown in. I decided that this space is going to be as honest as possible about everything we deal with because I don’t want to add to the fake noise on the internet, and well, it’s just life.

Real life side note: I’ve been reading tons of books since I’m pumping so much (I’m pumping + supplementing with Buster, more on that in the future), and have stumbled across some great reads. The Hidden Figures book was so interesting, I learned so many new things, and now I’m fully prepared to see the movie (anyone else refuse to see the movie before they read the book?). I would recommend Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance to anyone and everyone; it’s well-written, and so appropriate for our current political climate. It provides insight and nuance into some pretty big, important issues.

For lighter reading, the Sunday Philosophy Club and its sequel, Friends, Lovers, Chocolate by Alexander McCall Smith (he wrote the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series, if you haven’t go read allll those) are both really good, I can’t wait for the third installment to come available at my library! I finally read Me Before You by Jojo Moyes and devoured it–I’ve got the sequel on hold and I’m so excited for my turn. I checked out the movie last week, so I need to watch that, too, now that the book is read, duh.

Next up while I wait for my holds to come available: The Nightengale, and maybe the Martian? I can’t decide. I also have another Emily Giffin waiting in my Kindle–she’s one of my favorites (like Liane Moriarty) for lighter, fun reads. On hold: the audio version of Jim Gaffigan’s Dad is FatAfter You, and Strangers in Their Own Land by Arlie Russell Hochschild. I’ll report back!

Happy Monday, sorry about the word vomit, I’ll try to be more eloquent in the future but I have a newborn. Don’t get your hopes up.

 

 

Family · Food · Home · pregnancy

Preparing for Armageddon (or a baby)

I posted some pictures of my meal-prepping endeavors on Insta the other day, and got some questions, so I thought I’d write a post about pre-baby meal prep in our house. Disclaimer: this is not a picture-heavy post because #rawchickenfingers.

jars
Most of my “meal prep” isn’t meal prep in the traditional sense. I’m not a big fan of crock-pot meals (I know, I know) and the way I cook isn’t usually conducive to one-pot, make-it-and-freeze-it sort of stuff. I wish it were because it’s easier, but I’m a pretty picky eater (read: I have to see all the parts of my food, so soups and casseroles are off the table) and so this is how I make it work for us. Yes, this will be pasta and rice heavy, because my favorite easy recipes usually contain one or the other, and the first few weeks after having a baby is all about ease, comfort, and good fuel.

For me, a lot of it is about the meat. Handling raw meat on the daily is not something I enjoy, and you know how it is with a newborn: anything with germs is like the anti-Christ and must be kept away at all costs! Thus, I prep all of our meat in advance. I do this monthly, although not to this extent.

First, I made batches of chicken parm and plain chicken cutlets. For the chicken parm, dredge in seasoned flour, then a water or milk and egg mixture, then a mixture of panko, Parmesan cheese, Italian herbs like oregano and basil, paprika, garlic, and a little salt and pepper. For the plain chicken cutlets, same deal with flour and egg and then panko plus basil, a little parm, and lots of garlic. Freeze flat on parchment or a silpat or waxed paper, then divvy up into freezer bags. To cook, I bake the chicken parm in the sauce, and I saute the plainer cutlets in butter and olive oil (not the healthiest, but so delicious).

I also bread and freeze these pork chops.

I know that seems like a lot of breading, but serve with a little pasta or wild rice and a lot of veggies (our faves are roasted asparagus or broccoli, or sauteed green beans) and it’s not so bad. I also try and find whole-wheat panko instead of the processed white.

For more “flexible” meat ideas, I dice chicken breast and slice beef and freeze so I can just thaw and throw into stir fry or whatever without actually touching the meat. I like stir fry because it’s heavy on the veggies, light on the junk, and requires minimal effort. I get the big bag of stir-fry veggies from Costco, and make several batches of this sauce which has become our tried-and-true favorite. We eat it with rice or with Asian ramen-y noodles! I also make ahead the sauce for the Pioneer Woman’s Beef and Snow Peas and slice up beef for it. I used to put the whole kit and caboodle in the freezer to eliminate a step, but Bert and I both agree that soy sauce tastes funny when it’s frozen and thawed. Another sauce I made ahead is for this Kung Pao Chicken. Again, it’s a great, easy recipe and you can throw a ton of veggies in!

Since the meat is sliced and the sauce is made, all you have to do is throw rice in a rice cooker or some noodles on the stove (the noodles we like cook in less than four minutes), and throw the rest in a skillet. No knives or cutting boards or effort, really, and you can do a lot of it (not the actual skilleting) with a baby attached to you!

Another sauce I make ahead is the sauce for Simple Sesame Noodles, which I serve with veggies potstickers that I’ve pre-made and frozen, or just purchased from Costco.

A “fancier” meal I sort of prep for those miraculous good days when everything is jiving is fajitas. I pre-marinated some steaks (and arm roasts, I think, this time around) with this recipe, and they can marinate more while they’re thawing and I’m cutting up peppers and onions. But still, not a ton of dealing with meat!

I also do a couple of batches of meatballs, and this time I’m trying my hand at a couple different recipes for lactation cookies and some blueberry oatmeal breakfast bars–I’m hoping Wace likes the bars because he loves blueberry muffins but they’re not the healthiest!

I make sure we have plenty of “Bert Food” too, like frozen burritos and pizzas and roast beef and such, because even though I love cooking for my boys, I can’t always manage it in the crazy postpartum days. He’s super busy this time of year, too, and so it’s nice to know that he’s set. I’ve made sure to have a huge abundance of granola bars, fruit pouches, Naked smoothies, string cheese, peanut butter, juice boxes, whole-wheat bread, protein waffle mix, and fruits and veggies for us all to eat during the day, and try to keep sugar and soda out of the house since I’ll just devour it. When I had Wacey, I kept a stash of mini York Peppermint Patties in the freezer, and I’ll probably do the same this time around–Yorks aren’t as sugary as usual candy bars but totally hit the spot for me, and the peppermint is wonderful since I haven’t eaten anything minty since, like, September. #heartburn.

Other easy dinner ideas: Pasta (we use Bucatini) with Italian Sausage and Herbs, breakfast for dinner with canned or homemade-and-frozen biscuit dough, angel hair with sauteed Canadian bacon and asparagus (Bert eats his with homemade alfredo), pasta primavera with canned or pre-made pesto sauce (Costco has a GREAT one in the refrigerated section, just saute some veggies and chicken and throw it on some pasta with the pesto and BAM), chicken nuggets with mac and cheese when you really just cannot (we get the dino shaped ones from Costco so we obviously cannot on a semi-regular basis), Italian sausage links with pasta or tortellini/ravioli, sauce, and veggies (if you live in CO get Sara’s Sausage, it’s SO good. I know we can get it from either Safeway or Walmart most of the time), and, of course, frozen pizza.

Basically, we’re ready for Armageddon over here, which is pretty unnecessary but gosh it makes me feel good. #TypeAPlanner.

…and no, we haven’t had the baby yet.

 

Family · Home · On The Ranch · pregnancy · Wacey

Lately

Last week I had my 36 week ultrasound, after which my doctor informed me that there’s very little chance I’ll make it to my due date, and even though I never though I would, it sort of set off a freak-out in my brain. Combine that with an unplanned day of working cows, and the blog took, like, tenth priority. Totally not fair, but all is sort of fair in love and impending childbirth, right?

So here’s the haps. We’re still calving! It’s still going well, we haven’t had any more twins, and there are about sixty cows left!new-calf

The weather’s been gorgeous, but we did get snow last week and have some more coming this week–it’s actually good since it’s been so dry. Our morning stroller trips to the calving barn are one of the best parts of the day!
wace-leading-ace
hipster-wacey-walk
Aaaaand speaking of strollers…we found ours!! YAY! I’m SO excited. Like, unreasonably excited. We even came in under budget! #momlife
bob

And speaking of #momlife, our pregnant mare (on the left) is fat fat. I mean, all the horses are currently fat fat, but she’s taking pregnancy to a whole new level. Get it, girl.
mares

Last week, our favorite vet came down with some students in hopes that we’d have some things for them to look at as a practical lesson. Lo and behold, the day before they arrived, we had a calf break a femur! Not good, of course, but the good doctor and his students set the bone and put on a fancy splint in hopes that the calf (now named Forrest Gump, don’t judge) will make a recovery. It’s hard to fix broken limbs in calves, especially when they’re high up like this one, but we’re hopeful!
setting-a-broken-leg
Here’s Forrest with his fancy cast–it’s made of rebar and gauze and bandages and Frozen (yes, Frozen) duct tape, and it’s pretty amazing. Also he’s still a little sedated in this picture, hence the cloudy eyes. Bert brought his mom in so he gets plenty to eat and we’re hoping for 4-6 weeks with the cast on. So far, he seems to be doing okay!
broken-legThe vet and the students treated some sick calves, set another (less severe) broken leg, fixed a cow who wouldn’t clean (she calved but not all the afterbirth would come out), and pulled a calf. So, lots of “fun” vet stuff!

Our surprise cow working day on Friday was PAP testing heifers, which is one of my favorite things because I just love the vet that does it (the same vet that fixed up Forrest), and it’s so interesting! This vet PAP-ed our bulls in Montana so we’ve known him for years, and it’s so fun when he comes around. Plus, we do love our barn days! Bert’s in between AI groups on cows, so he took Wacey for the afternoon. It was so weird and yet exciting (and relaxing?) to be able to just work and not get snacks/milk/toys/etc.
vets
My outfit was on fleek, too. Belly shirts (crop tops?) are in, right? Also, apparently I have the lovely pregnancy skin pigmentation that I didn’t know about until…just now.
coveralls
Our local elk herd (on the hill in the middle of the picture) paid us a visit, too.
pens-and-elk
There’s a rule that you can’t sit down while you’re working cows, but I violated it pretty flagrantly. Ah, well.
sitting-down-at-barn
THIS would be why. OH MY GOSH this is completely ridiculous. Like, what?!? I have SO MUCH ENERGY but I have to sit down because this is what happens if I don’t. By far my least favorite pregnancy symptom to date.

(I posted this picture on Insta and got some concerned texts from friends and family, thank you for worrying about me! My doctor’s seen the monster ankles, and since my blood pressure is low, and I don’t have any other high blood pressure symptoms, she’s not worried. And I have an appointment tomorrow. The good Lord just wants me to wear my new mocs a lot!)
ankles

Also very much on the agenda: baby survival meal prep. Yesterday was breading chicken parm and chicken cutlets, making lots of sauces and marinades and packets of fajita seasoning, and thawing a billion pounds of beef and sausage. Today or tomorrow, some of that seasoning and all of that meat will be made into meatballs and fajitas, and sliced up for beef and snow peas. If Bub stays put (the theme of our lives right now), I’ll write a more detailed post later this week!

fajitas
jars

Last week’s ultrasound was so hilarious! We didn’t get a ton of good pictures because he accidentally hit himself in the face and made himself mad, but it was so neat to watch him move and feel it at the same time. Also, totally got the bison swaddle set and I’m in love. I do like the Aden + Anais swaddles, but man alive these ones are delicious. They’re Little Unicorn brand, and are bigger and softer and thicker than the A+As, and the three-packs are a great deal! Girl mamas: their floral swaddles are so beautiful. I
bub

So there it is. Bert’s calving, I’m trying to get everything done for the baby’s arrival and finish up projects at work, Wacey’s being adorable and also two, and we’re all waiting on Baby Brother. It’s weird to be in the final “any time now” weeks because I want another two months to do everything, and I also want the baby to be born tomorrow. Give me a few more days to finish meal prepping and clean our bathrooms, though, and I’ll be firmly entrenched in the latter camp. Bert thinks March 9 will be the day, I think it will be the following weekend because it’s a full moon, and I had Wace on a full moon weekend. Wace still thinks a “brother” is a belly button, so I don’t think he gets to put in his vote quite yet!

Happy Monday, happy almost March (can you believe it’s almost March?!?) and thanks for bearing with me. I want so badly to be a regular blogger, and I’m truly working on it, but it’s hard to suppress my slightly obsessive have-to-get-everything-done-before-the-baby-comes tendencies that have been surfacing for the past six weeks!

Family · Friday Favorites · Home · pregnancy

Ranch Baby Gear

As we’re preparing for Little Brother’s (increasingly) imminent arrival I’ve been looking at baby gear because I can’t help myself, and because there always seems to be something new and snazzy. I have a lot of tried-and-true things that would be staples no matter where we lived, but that’s not the case for everything. I keep finding that so many of the new “cool” things are not quite for us, either because it’s not our style, or more often because there’s no way it’s going to hold up or be very functional where we live.

collage

To wear:
Like every other mom ever, I’m all about Sleep N Play footies (especially for the first month or two–that’s all Wace wore–with zippers preferably, snaps are hard while sleep-deprived!), and Carter’s onesies. I like Carter’s stuff for babes because it fits well, and holds up to a thousand washes,and you can find solid colors without something stupid on the front.

Another essential? Muslin swaddles. We have a bunch of Aden + Anais ones, but I would still love some more that fit our style just a little better, like this horse swaddle, or the bison one I can’t stop thinking about! They’re great as a light blanket, a nursing cover, or as a carseat/stroller cover when, say, you’re at a rodeo in the day and the sun is blinding. Again, they also wash well!

Since ranch babies can’t always stay inside even when the weather sucks, it’s so important to me to find things to keep our boys warm if we all need to be at the barn. I love the sack version of the Carhartt coveralls, and this George hat is great–so soft, and fits a little baby head perfectly.

For bigger babies on up, it’s all button-downs and jeans over here, and I love that most brands have matching shirts in both toddler and infant sizes. Jeans are essential even before the kids walk because sweatpants stain and get holes in them much too easily around here! I like button-downs because you can layer them over a t-shirt to deal with changing temperatures (and they’re adorable), although I don’t dress my babies in collared shirts much before they’re a little bigger, because bibs+collared shirts result in weird situations! For jeans, we like Oshkosh the best so far, and we’ve also had good success with Wrangler.

The bull wubbanub is our fave. Wacey’s had two (maybe three?) and we’ve never lost one! They’ve just become casualties of puppies and rough treatment, haha.

For Feeding:
Feeding our kiddos needs to be portable. With Wacey, I didn’t make nearly enough milk and he was all formula-fed by four months. I’ll try nursing again this time (I got a Medela Pump In Style since I hated my Ameda pump), but if it doesn’t work, we’ve got the formula system down! The formula dispenser keeps pre-measured amounts of powdered formula in a no-spill, easy-to-dispense canister, and this water bottle keeps water hot for like, days. We bring a bottle of hot water, and a bottle of cold, and mix it to the right temperature. Toting water is necessary because often our drive is long, or wherever we’re headed (like a rodeo) may not have easily accessible, drinkable, or warm water, so we bring our own!

For the nursery:
We keep the nursery stuff simple, but there’s a couple of things I have come to love. A sound machine is clutch, and comes in handy every day, and when traveling. I love One & Done wipes because they’re literally a miracle–they don’t dissolve when scrubbing hineys or faces, and something in them is like, the best on-the-go stain remover.

Since we’re outside so much, I slather everyone in sunscreen (don’t worry, I wait until the baby is old enough), and I like this one for the littles (the bigs sometimes use it, too!). I like that it doesn’t have a ton of junk in it, and goes on a little white so I can make sure I applied it everywhere. I actually preferred Honest Company’s, but with the debacle a couple of years ago with people discovering that their kids were getting burned while wearing it, I don’t use it anymore. I’m sure they’ve fixed the problem, but it’s lame that it happened and we live at a higher altitude, so I don’t take chances.

I’m sure you’ve heard me wax poetic about Tubby Todd–their All-Over Ointment is the only lotion that works for Wacey, and I just stocked up on shampoo and lotion for Little Brother. This baby fresh spray, though not as used as our other TT stuff, is so great for tiny babies and I still have a bottle from when I used it with Wacey. To me, newborns smell delicious, but their clothes smell like sour milk, I smell like sour milk, the carseat, blankets, etc., smell like sour milk, and after awhile I feel like we all just stink, especially if we’ve had a full day in the sun and are all packed into the truck for a long ride home. Enter this spray, which *doesn’t* smell like sour milk. It smells like heaven, and makes us all seem a little fresher.

For Mama: 
This isn’t exclusive of ranching families, but I find it to be especially true in their (our) situation: you need to carry the baby, but have both of your hands free. Whether this is because you’re at the barn, or a branding, or a bull sale, or because you’re fixing dinner for the crew, or because you have a wild toddler about to fall in a huge pile of cow poop, carrying babies hands-free is necessary. For this, as you know, I am a devotee of the Solly Wrap and the Ergo 360. Both are easy to use, wash up well, and work amazingly. I’ve considered the Ergo Performance with the mesh inserts since the 360 can get hot, but we’ll see how into being worn Bub is.

Again, also not exclusive of ranching families, but definitely something to consider, especially with more than one baby: a huge diaper bag. Whenever we go anywhere, I don’t always have the option of easily running back to the car for a change of clothes/more diapers/snacks, so I bring everything with. This can be a mess, and can be a pain. Enter the Lily Jade Meggan bag. It’s the biggest one, and converts to backpack carry which is so, so necessary. Better yet, it’s beautiful and durable (cloth diaper bags do not hold up well around here–I have a beautiful Vera Bradley but I don’t want to destroy it further so I keep it in the car), and fits and organizes so many things.

Strollers. Why is it so hard to find the right one?! This is where the “cool things that don’t apply to us” happens the most, because I see all these beautiful strollers that convert from a bassinet to a seat, or have the option of adding another seat, or have leather handle grips, etc–and they all have teeny tiny wheels or fussy fabric. So, my solution is that we basically only use a jogging stroller, plus I need one since I walk so much. With Wacey, I use a Jeep single that I love, but as soon as you get into the realm of doubles, everything changes. I have my heart set on a (used) double Bob (Revolution Flex) because: lots of reasons. Big tires. Made for rugged situations like dirt roads, rodeos, barnyards, and maneuvering at the mall at Christmas. Independent canopies that extend extra far, so that each kid can choose how much sun they get, or none at all. Swivel/lock front wheel, because the ones that don’t swivel are a nightmare unless you’re an actual long-distance runner (I am not) and only use your stroller for that. Attachments for everything, including carseat adapters, snack trays, and extra drink holders for up top. In addition, there’s the one-hand maneuvering, an adjustable handlebar, huge underneath storage, and durable material. Plus it fits through doorways.

Basically my stroller unicorn, especially if I find one under my $300 budget. We’re going used because I can’t stomach spending two car payments on a stroller, and there seems to be a decent availability on Craigslist. When and if I find this unicorn I will shout it from the rooftops!

Other things we love: big minky blankets because they’re soft and warm, and thick enough that you can spread them on grass and not get poked. An angel friend of ours made one for Wace, and sent one for Bub and one for me a couple weeks ago and of course I cried when I opened the box. A cute ranchy option here! We use an Arm’s Reach Co-Sleeper as our bassinet (another great thing to Craigslist), partially because it’s portable, and I’ve already posted the bibs I bought for Bub. We also have a Boon Lawn that we love, and with Wacey we used Dr. Brown’s bottles.

Whether you’re in town or not, though, there are so many options these days to fit both your style and be functional for babies. I am so grateful that we have more options than primary colors and things covered in bunnies for my babes, especially when I can integrate my own style into the things we use most. It honestly makes me feel more like a human when I’m not surrounded by not-too-baby-looking baby things, although we have our fair share of those things, too. Also, it doesn’t hurt to have a few pretty things, especially as a boy mama.

Happy Friday! My littlest bub is kicking the snot out of my side and my biggest bub is hollering at me from his crib, so that’s my cue!