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


Social Media Reality Check & Going For It.

I think you should just go for itImage source

We’re light on the ranchy stuff this week, since we have been mostly inside with sick babes! But, you know, in addition to being ranchy, I’m also a mama and a person and all those things, and so I don’t think every post on here is going to be related directly to ranching, since that’s not my entire life.

Does everyone have a “Social Media Reality Check” awakening? I think it’s not just me, but I’m unsure whether or not it’s a widespread phenomenon or is limited to those of us who are slow on the uptake. I mean, we all  see the “Don’t compare your life to someone else’s highlight reel,” “comparison is the thief of joy,” “you are fearfully and wonderfully made so be yourself”-type things, and the exposés about how much effort the big Instagrammers use to get those oh-so-candid shots, and the ridiculous lengths people go to in order to look good and “on” all the time.

But darn if it hasn’t just started to sink in for me. I don’t know if it’s because I’ve given up Facebook for Lent (maybe forever? Except the groups? How does one do that?), or the fact that it finally rained here last week and it woke up something in my soul because man that dust and wind will get you down, or a Bible verse or a new book or what, but I think I’m finally starting to understand.

Granted, it’s been a rough…half a year? Whole year? I don’t know. I’ve had a hard time with this move, as I’ve mentioned before, and finding my worth and getting into the swing of things (something that is a big part of my mental state) has felt so hard in this new place that I don’t love yet. Making new friends (friend dating gives me fits, btw. Why am I so awkward? Why can’t we just look at a gal and say “Hey, I’m hip to your jive, let’s be friends?” Or can I do that?), learning where things are, trying to feel sort of at home…it’s worn me out.

But you know, it’s okay that I don’t love it. I don’t have to love it. I don’t have to want to live here my entire life and sing with gusto about it from the rooftops (barntops?). Just because I don’t love it doesn’t mean I can’t like it, and grow here, nor does it lessen the love that others have for it. I do, however, have to appreciate and be thankful for what I can about it (the sunsets! No nosy neighbors! Wonderful people! Lower car insurance rates! Being able to be outside playing in the winter without being freezing!), and use my time here to help my future self, which for me means setting up or getting involved in some sort of business that I can take with us, since losing my job in the move was a big contributor to my feelings of inadequacy. I like to have a purpose outside of our family, and for me, raising children and being a wife is my best job, but it can’t be my only job.

Social media, though, has also contributed to those feelings, and I’m ashamed it’s gotten so far. I realized, with the help of the app I talked about a few weeks past on IG, how much time I have really been spending on social media and y’all, it’s not pretty. And I realized how damaging that’s been in this season.

So, in addition to adios-ing Facebook, lately I’ve spent time unfollowing. That feels strange, considering I want to grow my own following on IG, and it feels sort of like a breakup because there are accounts that I’ve followed on IG or on their blog for years. I feel like I  know them, which is the magic of social media, but they no longer make me feel good, and sometimes they make me feel, well, bad, and it’s obvious that I’m not really part of the community they’ve built. Which is not on them, of course. Just because it works for someone else (hi, BBG and “clean eating” and those weird studded Valentino pointy shoes and overalls and overly opulent lifestyles and weird 90s bucket hats and cleanses) doesn’t mean it works for me, and that’s okay. Maybe in the future we can meet again but not right now. Unfollow, unfollow, unfollow.

Instead, I’m focusing on accounts that lift me up, or make me laugh, or make me think, or have great Bible verses, or feel aspirational in a way that’s inspirational instead of disheartening or completely unreasonable.

I’ve already felt a change, though. I’ve noticed it in how I’ve reacted to the boys being sick (I’m not stressed, I’m oddly zen about it), and how my mindset has changed about my side hustle (“I’m worth it, I’m qualified, it’s a good idea, it has a place, and it will take time to get off the ground but it’s worth it and I can do a really, really good job and make some money”). I think it’s also helped me react better to a situation in which someone was being little silly and unkind, and where I would have been angry or offended before, I chose not to take it personally, because the way someone reacts to a situation is a reflection of them, not me.

I’m not sure why I wrote this other than this is the sort of thing that speaks to me when I see it. Like yeah, I’m a ranch wife and a mama and a (budding) business owner, and I spend so much time raising my boys and trying to be the best wife I can and cooking and sweeping and cleaning and sweeping and also sweeping. But I’m also a person, an autonomous unit unto myself with interests and worries and hopes and dreams. And juggling all of those roles in this uber-connected world we live in can be so hard, especially when you see the gals who seem like everything is perfect. Or the ones that show a “real life” shot every now and then that feels so token it’s not even funny. Really, totally, unfunny.

Also, Brene Brown (and Jen Hatmaker and Tsh Oxenreider and Jamie Ivey and all those other amazing women I look up to) tells me I need to be more vulnerable, which is a word that actually gives me the shivers (like “moist” does for a lot of people), but when I hear her talk about it, she’s got a point. I mean, heck, even IG and Facebook have changed their algorithms to foster “community” and the only community I want to be part of is a real one, and I believe that can exist online if we let it.

And can we please let it? Because my closest friend live like a power of ten miles away.

Happy Thursday! Both of my children are napping, the sun is shining, and I’m spending some time on work and the Word before the chaos of dinner ensues, while also praying that we don’t have to go back to the doctor tomorrow.

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.


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


Food · let's visit · On The Ranch · Personal


let's talk about food

This is something that has been on my heart for a long time. And this is a long ole post, y’all, I know. In the future, though, I’ll be sharing short and sweet posts on my Instagram and I’ll try and keep the novels to a minimum.

All around us, in this age of the Internet, we are surrounded by information about everything. Which, you know, is really stinkin’ cool in a lot of ways. We’re so connected, and that’s something that I love because it helps me feel less isolated out here. But, there are a lot of things I, like a lot of people, don’t love about the Internet, and the at the top of my list is the misinformation spread by people who pretend that they know what they’re talking about.

Spoiler: they don’t always know. Not so much. I mean, come on, people are eating Tide Pods. It’s a crazy world out there, folks.

Unlike eating Tide Pods, eating food is important. It’s *literally* what keeps us alive. So, I understand the heated debates and the emotions that surround food and how it’s grown and made. But, it breaks my heart to see people being scared about the safety and quality of their food or how it was raised based upon information they found online, put there by someone who either a) has no idea what they’re talking about, b) might know what they’re talking about but has an agenda or is sponsored by a specific product or company, or c) is also just freaked out and is acting accordingly and sharing anecdotal evidence like it’s verifiable, evidence-based science.

And listen, I know there are lots of people online who are totally, 100% qualified to talk to you about your food, and I’m so glad. But to me, it feels like for every one of those, there are ten more who are the modern-day equivalent of medicine show guys with their bottles full of sugar and heroine. It seems like the very, very passionate voices on either end are drowning out the reasonable, voices in the middle, and that’s no good.


Please, I implore you, if you have a question about beef production, ask a (real) cattle rancher or farmer. If you have a question about fruits, vegetables, or other foods that grow out of the ground, ask a (real) farmer. If you have a question about the nutritional content of anything, ask a (licensed, non-biased, professional) nutritionist. If you are concerned that your diet is incomplete or that you are unhealthy, ask a (board-certified) doctor or consult a (registered, accredited) dietician. Use your best judgment to choose players for your team who are going to give you the best, most inclusive information. Do not turn to people sitting behind screens who harp upon the dangers or benefits of things they don’t know about, or who are peddling products or a lifestyle that doesn’t suit you. When you read articles, look for the science. Look for the proof. Look for the citations, and where they’re from. Learn about who’s doing the writing, and why. And if they are evangelizing their food choices to others to scare them, belittle them, or make them feel poorly about their own choices, I would choose to be wary of the information they are offering up.

However, wariness aside, I am absolutely not here to attack others. I am not here to tell you that you should eat beef, or what kind of beef you should eat. I’m here to show you that the people who raise your food are just like you. We are wives and husbands and parents and business owners and sports fans and Netflix enthusiasts and environmentalists and democrats and republications. We love our communities, and our people, and want to meet you and know you and welcome you into what we do, because you have a share in this, too. We love our jobs, and our ranches, and our farms, and our animals. And we want you to trust us, because this is our life’s work, and where our hearts live. It’s not a hobby, it’s not something we are merely passionate about. Growing food for you is what consumes our days, in one way or another.

I know we’re not usually the loudest voices on the internet. Part of this might be due to the work-intensive nature of agriculture, or our lack of reliable cell signal or internet.  Part of this might be due to the huge amounts of dollars some of the louder voices have behind them. And it’s scary to put ourselves out there because the internet can be a mean place, where people forget that we are all people deserving of dignity and respect. And sometimes it feels like we have a whole lot more to lose because this isn’t just a job, it’s our whole life. We don’t sit behind laptops in an office to further our agendas and then go home to our house that isn’t connected to our business. We live where we work, and the agriculture industry is already risky enough; it’s scary to open up and add more risk. I’ve had people that I know tell me, unequivocally, that I’m personally killing the planet and should be ashamed (I’m not and you cannot make me feel shame for my life, ps). I’ve had strangers tell me that I’m a bad mother for raising my children where and how I do. I’ve heard offensive and unspeakable things said to people that I respect and heard comparisons about what we do to what we do to the Holocaust (I’m not kidding, people are that classless and crass.) So it’s scary. But, you know, telling the truth is necessary, so we keep sharing, in the hopes that someone will listen to us instead of someone on Facebook sharing photoshopped pictures of animal abuse.

That’s why this blog is here. And guess what? This isn’t the only blog like this. There are piles of blog and Instagram accounts and YouTubers who share the real story of ag, and most of them don’t have an agenda. They just want to share, and to invite you into their lives and communities, and know that the more good, reasonable, smart, forward-thinking, kind voices we have in this community, the better.

You’ll find that most of these folks are like me: raising a family, raising beef, and proud to help feed the world. Here are just a few of the highly qualified folks that you can turn to about your beef, and food in general.

Buzzard’s Beat: Brandi is a wife, mama, rodeo-er, and all-around #girlboss who also happens to have a Master’s in Animal Science. She’s one of my favorite sources for no-nonsense insights into beef, even the hard stuff.

Girl Carnivore: Do you like meat? Do you want to know how to fix it and make it so delicious? Then head over to Kita’s site and get your fill of meaty goodness and gorgeous photography. This girl can grill. 

Cowgirl Boots and Running Shoes: Michaela is an ultrasound technologist-turned-fitness coach (among about ten other things) and she and her husband are raising their three children on her husband’s family farm and ranch in Nebraska. She’s my go-to for beef from a perspective of nutrition and fitness, and is so motivating!

Agriculture At Its Best: Mike has decades in so many aspects of the beef industry from livestock production and sales to 4H and the Extension Service. And, surprise, another Master’s!

Faith Family & Beef: Terryn and her family live in the Sandhills of Nebraska where they raise cattle and have an amazing pack of ranch dogs. She has a background in feeding cattle and shares what everyday life is like on a ranch in the Sandhills with three kids, and also has a ton of great recipes.

Meet Your Beef: Brooke is a fourth-generation rancher, and is also an animal health company territory manager and runs an amazing boutique (do you see the #girlboss theme here?).

Johnny Prime Steaks: Steakhouse reviews, killer photography, irreverent humor, and now a butcher shop. If you like steak–or food–at all, he’s your guy.

Arizona Beef Blog: This is the blog of the Arizona Beef Council. It showcases families and ranches from around the state to show how Arizona does beef. It’s run by Tiffany, who found a love a cattle through her love of horses.

The Circle L Ranch Blog: Naomi and her family raise cattle and horses, and also runs several businesses including a feed store and a rodeo production company. Another #girlboss who talks about everything from cooking to rodeo to parenting to ranch life, and features other dynamite women in agriculture.

Tales of a Kansas Farm Mom: Nicole and her family run a farm where they raise crops like wheat and soybeans as well as cattle. She shares recipes, stories, and what it’s like to run a diversified farm operation while being a mama.

Kellie For Ag: Kellie is another diversified farmer who raises crops and beef cattle in Iowa. She grew up in a farming family and has always wanted to be a farmer, and her passion and knowledge of the industry is plain!

Blessed by Beef: Tierra has an amazing story, and raises Angus cattle and bulls on her family’s ranch in Oregon. She’s also a photographer, and has a background in livestock marking.

Blue Eyes and Cow Pies: Kiah is a seventh-generation California cattle rancher (yes, seventh) who now lives and works in Kentucky. She knows her stuff, y’all.

Wag’n Tales: Val is a mama of four boys who farms crops and cows in North Dakota. She writes about everything under the sun, including what it’s like to be a farm mama to a little one with a serious medical condition.

Scott Stebner Agricultural Photography: Do you want to see some absolutely gorgeous photos? You do. You really, really do. His portraits move me to my soul. Head over to his site, you won’t be sorry.

Ag on the Forefront: Kelsey, her husband, and her son raise Red Angus cattle in Eastern Colorado. She’s another sharp-as-a-tack gal with a Master’s and has some amazing posts. I especially love her posts on animal welfare, and antibiotics.

The Truth About Ag: Michelle talks about some really hard things, and tackles head-on some of the most controversial aspects of ag. Her posts are well-researched and are a resource I often turn to, myself!

Dairy Carrie: Carrie and her family are dairy farmers in Wisconsin and I love her blog because she unflinchingly and very directly tackles some of the misinformation out there. I don’t know a ton about dairy (we raise beef cattle), but what I do know I’ve learned from reading her blog. It’s made me smarter!

Mom at the Meat Counter: Janeal (or Dr. Janeal as I refer to her in my head) is a bonafide meat scientist at the University of Arkansas. If you want to learn more about meat, she’s your gal, and a really excellent teacher and resource.

The Cow Docs: Jake and Carolyn are (mostly large animal) vets who also raise cattle. They blog about cow things, industry things, life things, food things…lots of things! But seriously. Two vets. With a blog. Check em out!

So, when in doubt, #AskARancher. #AskAFarmer.

Home · Personal

Ode to My Dishwasher



Dishwasher, we haven’t known each other long
But my love for you runs deep and strong
For awhile, you weren’t here, and I was blue.
But now, every night, it’s just me and you.

You wash, you soak, you scrub, you dry.
I don’t lift a finger or bat an eye.
No more nasty hands for this gal, sis,
You take care of every dish.

My glasses sparkle, my plates shine;
I no longer deny that the bowls are mine.
No more gritty forks or knives,
No more soggy food that gives me hives.

I’m not the toughest, but I’m tougher than some
But darn it if I don’t hate washing every one
Of those dishes that stack up in my sink
It’s enough to push me to the brink.

So dishwasher, though you’ve been here but a day
I hope you’ll never, ever go away
You’re saving me from a dreaded chore
And making my evening not a bore

I now have time to relax and unwind
While you do your thing, I hope you don’t mind.
I assume you don’t, since you don’t haw or hem.
Sweet dishwasher, you really are such a gem.

My dishwasher arrived a few days ago and I am deliriously, inappropriately, over-the-moon happy about it. I don’t mind telling you that washing dishes takes years off my life and makes me want to die and turns my already-gross hands into an even grosser swamp creature and also makes me kind of mean because you should see the dishes we seem to generate and also tiny toddler and baby things suck to wash.

Everyone’s got their favorite appliances. I love me some goooood dishwashing…that I don’t have to do. I told Bert last night that there are not many kitchen appliances I would sub in for my dishwasher, save the oven, refrigerator, and running water. I would gladly mix things by hand, toast things over an open flame, make rice in a pot, slow-cook things in an oven, and use a griddle pan for everything else than not have a dishwasher forever.

And if you are one of those people that “enjoys washing dishes,” mazel tov, truly! It takes all kinds of kind, although your kind of kind is bizarre to me but I think we can still be friends provided you don’t also enjoy de-clogging shower drains and scrubbing kitchen cabinets because then I might be worried you’re actually a Westworld droid. Actually, if you love those things a lot, or are a (non-homicidal) Westworld droid, come on over and do mine?

(Yes, I recognize I was without a dishwasher for like, 2.5 months. That was 2.4 months too long #noshame.)

(Also, did you know it’s hard to take a pretty picture of a dishwasher in a not-so-pretty corner of the kitchen? It is.)

Family · On The Ranch · Personal

Back in the Saddle


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!


2018: Looking Forward


For 2018, I once again used Tsh Oxenreider’s questions. I’ve never approached a new year like this before, and I really like her approach because resolutions seem to be more self-focused: “Lose weight,” “Get a promotion,” “Eat healthier,” etc. but these questions are about yourself but also your relationships and your family and how you can do things to improve all the important areas of your life without feeling overwhelming. I plan on coming back to this every few months to check and in a course correct when needed!

What skill do you most want to learn this year?
Social media. I want to learn especially more about how to reach more people on Instagram and make my feed look pretty, but not overdone. Also: how to give worry over to God. I’m a worrier, even about things I absolutely cannot change or influence, and sometimes I annoy or stress out myself with all that worrying, and there’s no point to it!

What is one skill you already have that you’d like to improve this year?
Writing. I feel like I’m a fairly good writer, but I want to improve to professionalism of my blog and IG posts, and get better at expressing hard things and being vulnerable (which, as I type it, sort of makes me shudder, I won’t lie).

Name three books you most definitely want to read in 2018.
Daring Greatly (on my nightstand!), A Gentleman in Moscow (on hold!), A Man Called Ove (on audiobook right now!!)

In what specific area do you most want to encourage your spouse? What are some ways you can do this?
I want to encourage Bert in his non-work endeavors, whether it is starting colts, making leather stuff, ranch rodeoing, etc. I can encourage him by helping him find the time, and making sure to leave money in the budget for supplies and such, and generally supporting him, and not begrudging him the time, either. Also, I know he likes when we go with him, so I need to make that a priority.

Think of one of your major life goals. What will you do this year to make you one step closer to reaching that goal?
Get serious. It’s time to treat my life goals as things that hold weight and are worth my time—my real time, not just my marginal time.

Name your kids’ biggest strengths. What are some ways you can specifically nourish those strengths? Wacey is such a funny, kind, social kid. I can nourish that by making sure he gets time to play and socialize especially with other kids, and by prioritizing family adventures. Buster’s biggest strength is that he’s the world’s happiest, mellowest baby, and I can encourage that by letting him get loved on by as many people as will love on him, and take his cues for when he’s had enough and needs to recharge.

Name your kids’ most prominent weakness. What are some ways you can encourage their ability to overcome it?
Wacey’s biggest weakness is not having a lot of try and giving up easily. I can help him by encouraging him to keep at it instead of jumping in, and helping him see that he can do it, even if it makes him frustrated, and how to try different ideas until one works. He’s got a short rope when things don’t work (just like his mama) and it will be good practice for us both to work on that together. Buster’s most prominent “weakness” (isn’t it funny to think of a baby having a weakness? He doesn’t have a weakness. He’s currently 27 pounds of perfect) is that he doesn’t sleep all night consistently yet. I can help him by keeping him to a good routine, and helping him learn to self-soothe, and that he doesn’t actually need a bottle in the middle of the night. Also: can someone direct me to size 5 or 6 diapers for #huskytots? We’ve tried them all, and about every other night he pees straight through and wakes up because he’s soaking wet!

What is one of your strengths. Think of some specific ways you can exercise it this year.
I’m good at getting things done, especially when my plate is full. This year, I want to fill up my plate a bit more, because it’s seemed a little empty, and really get back into my groove of getting s**t done. I’m much more productive and happy when I have a lot to do and less idle time!

What is one of your weaknesses? Brainstorm ideas on how you can overcome this deficiency.
Coming off of the fiasco that was the latter half of 2017, I feel like I have four hundred weaknesses and that they all need to be improved upon. But to pick one, I need to prioritize self care and time management. I put these together because I am a better mom, wife, daughter, person driving behind a slow driver, retail customer, restaurant patron, person in line behind the guy at the feed store who doesn’t seem to know what he wants but expects the person at the register to ESP it for him, and all-around human when I’m exercising and eating healthy and not spending piles of my time in idle pursuits like scrolling through my phone or plucking my eyebrows to death. I need to be exercising, eating my fruits and veggies and protein, and busy.

Think of an important relationship aside from your spouse and children. How will you nurture that relationship this year?
Naming just one would be remiss, because I neglected my relationships so much last year. This year, I want to make a concerted effort to talk to my far-away friends on a regular basis, and to be more patient in the relationships that frustrate me. If I had a word for my friend relationships, it would be show up (okay that’s two words, but still), and if I had a word for the more complicated (but not bad, mind you—just more to navigate) relationships, it would be grace.

Name a few ways your physical health could be improved?
Sticking to a workout routine, even loosely, and eating more fruits and vegetables. I’m learning how much of an impact my diet has on how I feel and my mood, and I want to give myself the best chance I can to be a good wife, mother, and #girlboss and ain’t no gal going to get that done if she’s tired, hangry, and bloated. Plus, it’s awfully nice when all my pants fit.

Name a few ways your family’s financial health could be improved.
I’m so excited for this one. I have a plan about opening some new bank accounts to help myself budget, and I’m really going to pay attention to when things are cheaper on Amazon and Walmart/Target.com and such and order as much as I can and have it shipped to the house (or within 25 miles of the house. I’ll take that). Also, we’re hoping to pay off student loans this year, and that would be phemonenal. Once I figure out all of this, I’ll write a post because gosh, no one wants to talk about money, but if the Dave Ramsay or the No Spend Year doesn’t work for you, it might be helpful to read what someone else does that works for them. Right?

(PS—what works for you?)

In what ways do you want to draw closer to God?
I want to learn more about the Bible itself, and His story, and what He teaches us.

What is one area of home management that frustrates you? Think of some specific ways you could improve your attitude about it.
The clutter. Oh, the never-ending, always-underfoot tiny children clutter. I’m not sure I can improve my attitude, but I’m mostly focused on setting myself up for success by making sure everything has value and a place, and getting rid of the things that don’t. This year’s home theme might be The Purge. I’m not a minimalist, but I am a “If it doesn’t have a place we need to make a good one or get rid of something” ist.

Family mission statement
We are working on this. Tsh Oxenreider says to sit down over tea with your spouse (to my knowledge, Bert has never sat down over any beverage with any person, much less tea, which he has never consumed except for in the Sweet Iced and Arnold Palmer forms, unless you count coffee at crew meetings), so the ranchy version of that is to print out the questions and take several long drives to answer them, right? Plus this sort of thing is like pulling teeth to Bert, and he’s more likely to go along with it if he’s otherwise occupied yet free to visit, like when he’s driving and both children are strapped in carseats.

Name one specific thing you could do with your spouse this year that will deepen your intimacy.
Prioritize more just-us time. When the evenings warm up, I’d love to go back to roping a dummy for a little while when the boys are in bed, we have great talks while we do that. We’re also establishing a regular out-of-the-house, no-kids date night (we’re hoping for once a month or so) and a regular weekly at-home date-night where we eat a special dinner or dessert together and watch a new movie (we’ve officially signed up for the old-school DVD Netflix since our streaming is…questionable). And working on projects or doing something together instead of sitting on our phones in the evening.

What is something that is continually undone in your life? What will you do to fully complete it this year?
My projects. My blog and Instagram are always an afterthought, and I don’t want that to be the case any more. Also, I really want to up my meal planning game with some sort of (self-created?) tool to help with grocery lists, because I always forget something and that sucks even when you aren’t super rural.

In what ways will you be involved with your local community?
I’ve joined the local cattlewomen’s group and I’m so excited. We’re doing a cookbook and it’s going to be great. I’m also working on finding some charitable pursuits, but it’s honestly been a little hard because we’re that rural. It’s hard to commit to a whole lot more driving in this season, and so I’m exploring some ways I can help remotely.

What is one thing you’d like to accomplish by your birthday this year?
I can’t choose one, so I’m choosing two (#typical): a thousand followers on Instagram, and the implementation of Phase 1 of a project I’m working on with a professor at my alma mater (CU Boulder). A client or two for my small business would be fun, too.

Think of three words you’d like to describe your 2018.
Growth, grace, joy.