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.

 

 

Personal

Inauspicious Auspicious Beginnings

evening light

Am I the only one who puts way too much weight on auspicious beginnings? Like try and foresee and plan for all contingencies and bring extra changes of clothes and lots of snacks and leave like four hours early so that when the moment of the beginning arrives you’re there, on time, unruffled, and preferably not sweaty and with great hair.

I might re-think that method because I think it might be erroneous.

Let me expound.

(Did you think I was going to do anything else? Expounding is like, one of my favorite things. P.S. why is impound not the opposite of expound? Filing away for further consideration.)

We were in the car on the way to our New Mexico/West Texas interview extravaganza and I was a tiny bit of a wreck. We’d never left the boys overnight much less for four nights, and I left literally five single-spaced pages behind of the boys’ schedules, a glossary so that the grandparents could decode some of Wacey’s words (because “fwuh” means “movie” and “ash” means “snack”), directions to the nearest Urgent Care and instructions (with pictures!) about how to put the infant carrier into the double stroller (hi, my name is Cassidy and I’m a Type-A Over Planner, nice to meet you). I wasn’t worried about their care (we’re blessed with two great sets of grandparents!) but I was worried that something would happen and we’d be out of cell range like a llama would come flying out of the sky or there would be a power outage and they’d run out of cold milk or some other such nonsense.

So, you can imagine how I felt when Bert’s dad called while we were driving through rural New Mexico to tell us the horses had gotten out and Bert’s grey horse had cut himself pretty badly. Every time my husband leaves the state of Colorado for New Mexico, the horses get out. What does this mean for our future? I don’t know. Maybe they’ll just..stay in? In New Mexico?

But, in true cowboy fashion, Bert got on the phone and arranged for some help to get the fence fixed, the  horse to headquarters where he could receive good care, and the other horses put back to where they needed to be.

Long story short, I almost made Bert turn the car around when I found out the formula that was supposed to arrive that afternoon to, you know, sustain the life of my infant, was going to take three more days to arrive even though it was less than two hours away. Someone please explain how that works because the gentleman from UPS customer service was flummoxed. My lovely neighbor came to the rescue to save the day, and somewhere around Carrizozo I decided I needed a drink (I drink, like, twice a year so I was real serious about this) since my husband wouldn’t listen to my desperate pleas to turn the car around because my nerves were shot and God was obviously trying to tell us something.

(He was, ps. He was telling us that no matter what happens, we have friends and family who love us and support us and will help us whenever we are in a bind.)

I was pretty certain that all that inauspiciousness was going to lead to a disaster of a trip but you know what? It didn’t.

We went in with an idea of how we’d come out. We were pretty certain that Bert was going to take the job in West Texas and that we’d be packing up and moving twelve hours south.

You guys, we couldn’t have been more wrong. It’s actually super funny now to think back to just two weeks ago when we thought we knew. Oh, what children we were! We’re older and wiser now. Two week will do that. It took about five minutes for us to know that New Mexico felt more like home than we could have ever thought, and it took about, oh, four seconds for us to know that the ranch in West Texas was the very last place we needed to be. We were shocked at how everything lined up perfectly for New Mexico to work and hilariously wrong for us the other job was.

(We likened it to this one time when we had to deliver a bull to the most isolated, strange ranch in Washington state. Not creepy–aside from the house that looked exactly like the Amityville Horror house–but it gave us the most indescribable case of the willies. It felt like being in the Twilight Zone and everything felt…faded. It was weird. Not home. Not good.)

So, I’m pretty sure we just got nicely but boldly told, “Quit trying to make your own damn plans. I got you.” Amen.

But really, can someone explain to me how UPS works?!

 

 

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!

Personal

Finding God in the Busy Seasons of Mothering

sunset in the basin

I was nervous to post this, but it’s been on my heart so much lately what with some conversations with friends I’ve been having and eerily timely podcast episodes and devotional verses that I feel compelled to do so. I’ve always been pretty private about being a Christian; I didn’t grow up in a very religious household, and honestly didn’t really start thinking about religion in any meaningful way until college, so it’s not something that most people I grew up with associate with me, but you know what? It’s good stuff, and it’s part of my daily life that make me a better person. Hiding it is ridiculous.

I have always been a believer, but until I met my husband I didn’t really become a Believer, and that’s only intensified since we’ve been married. I just can’t see how we could have met each other without someone planning it–we certainly couldn’t have planned it, but it was so obviously intentional that I couldn’t ignore it. Things fell so perfectly into place and I’m glad we both picked up what Jesus was laying down.

Fast forward seven years, and here we are with two boys. We’ve had some wonderful times, and some hard ones, but it’s so plain to see that our lives have been guided by someone with a program. We’ve learned so much together, and everything is a step forward, even if it’s hard, because it’s teaching us lessons we need to learn to be better people and the best parents we possibly can.

We’re in a funky season right now. In addition to some more private things that are constantly on our minds, we have a new baby, the toddler has become a capital T Two Year Old, and we’re in a busy season on the ranch with breeding and branding and springtime, so we’re both doing a little more with a little (sometimes a lot) less. It’s not a bad season by any stretch, but it is one where we’re both feeling the effects of More with Less sprinkled with some uncertainty. In my younger years, this would have really stressed me out. I would have gone into full-on Control Freak mode (just ask my roomie/best friend in college. It’s not pretty), and tried to force change where I could to make the situation more within my command. Now, I’m learning to see the lesson and the grace where the stress used to be, and lean on God to help manage the worry and uncertainty. This has been especially true since becoming a mother–it would be easy to let worry swallow me whole, because there are now tiny humans completely dependent upon me and their daddy to take care of them. Instead of that, I’ve been talking to God. He’s helping me learn to give the worry to Him.

In busy seasons, though, particularly those with young children, it can be hard to find structured, devoted time to lean in, or even make it to church. This is doubly true when you live in a rural area and churches or bible studies may require driving time that is hard when you’re in the season of naptimes, messy babies, and active toddlers. I was listening to the most recent episode of the Coffee + Crumbs podcast on our walk this morning, and it really got me thinking about ways to lean in when everything seems so busy. It helps me so much to do so, because it makes it easier for me to find the blessing in whatever it is that we’re dealing with, and it makes the stress seem so much more manageable. I also don’t want the boys to have a constantly worried mama, and since worry is my default, I have to actively try and give it away.

For me, it’s all about fitting things in with whatever we’re doing. We spend a lot of time in the car or stroller, so having music to listen to when I need an uplift is helpful. I’m not a fan of most modern worship music, but I love gospel and hymns. I have a playlist on my phone that has Randy Travis’ gospel music, some bluegrass renditions of traditional songs like “I’ll Fly Away” (Willie Nelson has a killer live version), some recordings of gospel choirs, and some Hank Williams and Josh Turner, among other things. I also listen to sermons via podcast pretty often (Antioch Waco is my favorite, I really enjoy Carl Gulley’s sermons and his It’s Complicated series), and I love that I can find them based on topics because sometimes I really need a lesson on something specific. I also pray a lot. We pray in the car, I try and pray before bed, and if I get up in the night with Buster, I try and pray a little then, too.

If I get a quiet few minutes–most often while pumping in the evening, moms can’t do just one thing at a time, you know–I devotional it up. I have a few that I rotate depending on which style I’m feeling at the time, and lately I’ve really been into my Lara Casey Write the Word journal. I bought it over a year ago, and at the time the verses that were in there just didn’t speak to me or seem super relevant to that season, so I put it down and didn’t really think about it until this spring, when I randomly picked it up again. And you know what? The verses now are speaking to exactly what I’m struggling with, exactly what we’re going through, and are perfect for this season. It’s not a coincidence, y’all.

In case you’re wondering, I’ve been spending time in the book of Matthew, which is teaching me how not to punch people in the face when they are awful. So far, it’s worked. Pray for me, though, because some days it’s real hard.

In a recent blog post, Ree Drummond of Pioneer Woman fame made mention that many people in agriculture are people of faith, because their whole livelihood is at the mercy of things that are completely out of control. This is so true, and really resonated with me both on a rancher level and a mama level. I feel lucky to have finally found my faith because I don’t know what I would do without it.

Probably punch someone in the face, and you know that’s not good.

 

 

Celebrate · Family · Personal

Mother’s Day

buster snugglephoto credit: Elizabeth Jane Photography

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

breakfast

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

preview

On The Ranch · Personal

It’s Spring and it’s Springing

barn

Usually on Sunday afternoons when Bert is home, I can sneak out during the boys’ nap to go on a walk by myself. I love walking with the boys, but it’s nice to go alone without a stroller, snacks, and having to stop every so often to distribute or collect said snacks or adjust a sock or have an existential conversation about the crick or airplanes or the cows.

This past Sunday we were all pleasantly surprised that the blizzard that looked like it would continue into the afternoon quit in the morning, and the snow started melting in a fast fast hurry, hallelujah! So I threw on my muck boots, gathered up Gaucho, and put on a podcast (the Pica episode of Sawbones) and went a-walkin’.

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Gaucho

road

We strolled past the neighbor’s little crew of Mini Herefords and said hello. They crack me up, they’re so funny and small!

mini herefords

While jaunting around in muck boots isn’t the most ideal of situations, the muck boots are necessary for the several reasons, the most important of which is that they enable me to actually jaunt (rather jauntily, if you want to know), the next important of which is that the slush and mud is six inches deep in some spots and soggy running shoes are a real buzzkill, particularly when learning about the widespread occurrence of pica throughout the centuries proving that it’s a medical thing, not a cultural thing.

In other news, don’t eat too much clay. You could die. A little is okay though, as long as it isn’t toxic.

slush

We continued on to say hi to the girls, who obligingly stood still before running away in pretend fear of the fearsome canine that is my right-hand man, whose full name is in fact Gauchito Burrito Lorenzo Sergio Eduardo Juanston.

And if you pick up on the Gauchito-Burrito Three Caballeros reference, then we are already best friends

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cows panorama

cuchara

April showers might bring May flowers, but you know what else they bring? Mud, and spontaneous crick action, and flooded everything. However, we’re not complaining in the slightest!

creek

Happy Tuesday! I hope wherever you are that spring is springing, and maybe it’s a little warmer than here, and also maybe it’s sunny and maybe you’re going to Starbucks or having a smoothie or playing with glitter or confetti or horses or something.