Thursday, August 30, 2012

The "B" Word

I'm beginning to really hate the word "BUSY". Everyone I talk to is busy, busy, busy. It's like the new buzz word.

When you politely ask a friend, "How are you?", the archaic responses of "fine" and "good" have now been replaced with the dreaded "busy".

The reason this word is at the top of my cringe list is because of the message it sends.  Like it or not, when you scrape down to the true meaning of the word, it conveys one or more of the following things to other people:

- Activities A,B, and C are more important than you.
- I choose not to make time for you.
- I am a slave to the schedule.
- I don't want to volunteer for that.
- I have a problem saying the word "NO" and subsequently, have too many commitments.
- Activities A-Z make me feel important.
- I have many things on my plate, but don't have time to do any of them really well.

Please don't misunderstand me. There are many seasons in our lives that require an extra measure of our time and energy. I'm not speaking of those times. I'm talking about habitually over-scheduling our lives with activities that really don't matter in the grand scheme of things.

I write this purely from a place of conviction because I'm the chief of busyness. The word has spewed forth from my lips on far too many occasions. Unfortunately, it is true. Our family is often far too....for lack of a better word....busy.

Thankfully my husband, the fearless leader of this family, came to the rescue.  He recognized the subtle unrest within our home; discord, fatigue, disconnectedness, and an overwhelming schedule. He acted swiftly and made an executive decision to put the kibosh on a few of our biggest time suckers. We yanked our kids out of soccer and football this fall for the very first time. It was a tough decision because our kids love sports, and they are good at them. It's only for a season, but it will provide a much needed rest for our family.

We were at the point that we were never together. My husband took one child to one practice and I would take the others to another at a field on the other end of town. We spent hours traveling on the road, and ate dinner out of a sack. Communication involved lots of text messages, and we were burning the midnight oil to ensure that all of our other obligations were taken care of. We were in a vicious cycle of frenzied activity and exhaustion. That, my friends, is a recipe for disaster!

Now that my husband has thinned out our schedule significantly, we have time for the good stuff! And by "good stuff" I mean: eating together every night at the kitchen table, re-connecting with friends, going for spontaneous evening  walks, saddling up for a leisurely ride until the sun sets, playing in the backyard, snuggling on the couch for an old movie, and spending our Saturdays out in the pasture as a family.

I look forward to an autumn filled with more of the people we love: time spent cutting wood with our families a midst the changing leaves, having more friends over for dinner, and sipping on Chai Tea with my favorite pals while our kids play together. I want to send a message to my friends that says that they are treasured, and loved.  Most of all, I look forward to not being a slave to the schedule.

Because of the society that we live in, I'm sure that my family will always be at war with that dreaded "busyness" we hate so much. We'll constantly have to go through the process of weeding out the good things in life to save room for the best things.  Our family time is precious and worthy of being closely guarded.

So the next time someone asks me how I'm doing, I hope I'm able to respond with anything other than  the word "BUSY."

Having a fabulously un-busy day,


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Whistle While You Work

I've been whistling a tune this week. In fact, it's a catchy old hymn that we sing in church from time to time.  I just love those old hymns that have stood the test of time, and the stories behind the songs.  This one was written in 1862 during the darkest hours of the civil war.

Maybe you'll enjoy this rendition as much as I do:

He Leadeth Me
Written by Joseph H. Gilmore
Composed by William Bradbury

He leadeth me, O blessed thought!
O words with heav’nly comfort fraught!
Whate’er I do, where’er I be
Still ’tis God’s hand that leadeth me. 
He leadeth me, He leadeth me,
By His own hand He leadeth me;
His faithful follower I would be,
For by His hand He leadeth me.

Sometimes mid scenes of deepest gloom,
Sometimes where Eden’s bowers bloom,
By waters still, over troubled sea,
Still ’tis His hand that leadeth me. 

Lord, I would place my hand in Thine,
Nor ever murmur nor repine;
Content, whatever lot I see,
Since ’tis my God that leadeth me. 

And when my task on earth is done,
When by Thy grace the vict’ry’s won,
E’en death’s cold wave I will not flee,
Since God through Jordan leadeth me.

Have a great Tuesday!


Sunday, August 26, 2012

This 11 Year Old's Life

This fine young man is larger than life. 

He breaks out into spontaneous dancing in the kitchen, and has busted a move in the aisle of the grocery store on more than one occasion.

He loves to sing loudly when he feels like it, but will barely move his lips if singing is "required" of him.

He is passionate about mealtimes, and savors every morsel as if it's his last meal on earth. He's always hungry.  He loves all food, and makes his mom feel like the best cook on the planet.

He is currently obsessed with giant, black Ford dually trucks. He spots them on the road the way some kids spot "slug-bugs". (I think it's a phase.)

He wants to be a rancher when he grows up.

He's saving his money to buy his first heifer calf, although he has a weakness for buying bubblegum.

He loves to play baseball.

He likes to go fishing, and has the patience of Job to sit in the same spot all day long.

He's an expert at catching crawdads, frogs, bugs, snakes, and lizards.

He's an early riser.

He wants to raise a coon dog pup.

He squabbles with his sisters, but he's fiercely protective of them around other people.

His favorite chores are the ones he does with his dad.

He loves to read about animals, hunting, horses, and cowboys.  

He cried when he read "Where the Red Fern Grows".

He has no body fat and wears long-johns to stay warm over half of the year.

He's the tallest kid in every sport, classroom, or play that he's in. It's easy to spot him.

He needs to know exactly what we're going to do everyday, and it's the first question he asks in the morning.

He has a memory like an elephant. If you can't find something, just ask him. Chances are good that he remembers where it is.

He makes everything into a competition.

He's a great shot.

He's a real hugger. No, I take that back. He's more of a gut squisher.

He prefers needs to be outdoors.

He always carries a pocket knife.

He loves babies. I mean, he TOTALLY adores the wee ones.

He ropes everything in his path...feet, chairs, bushes, sisters, fence posts, etc.

He runs like a giraffe because he hasn't grown into his long arms, legs, or size 8 boots yet.

He hoards little treasures from nature that have no monetary value. He treats every turtle shell, snakeskin, and elk antler like it's a priceless work of art that belongs in a museum.

He's a straight A student but doesn't care for penmanship class at all. His cursive is improving through blood, sweat, and tears.

He has a soft spot in his heart for his animals.

He is growing up to be a young man of God, and we are so blessed by him every single day.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Life of Luxury

My feet are finally beginning to touch the ground after my husband whisked me away this weekend to celebrate our anniversary in grand style! It takes a tremendous amount of planning to travel around here with all of our animals and things that must be cared for, but I give major props to my husband for making it happen. It was our first little get-away without the kids, and my in-laws graciously took care of them so we could enjoy a weekend alone.

On Friday morning, we drove to Tucson to stay at the gorgeous Loews Ventana Canyon Resort. Anyone who's read this blog for any length of time knows that the posh life makes me uncomfortable, but the elegance of this resort made me face my fears of valet parking, and bell-hops head on. It definitely wasn't the Motel 6.  We marveled at the grand scale of the lobby, the Koi fish ponds out back, the waterfalls in the mountain, and the fresh flower arrangements all over the hotel. No detail was left undone at this place!  

After settling into our suite, a storm rolled in, and we took the opportunity to explore the resort a little. Then we went out for Mexican food, shopping, and dessert.

The hotel is nestled high up into the side of Ventana Canyon.  Here's the view from our 3rd story balcony. It overlooked the entire city of Tucson. At night the skyline was gorgeous.

Here's a picture of our shower. Can you tell I don't get out much?!? Ha Ha!! This picture doesn't do it justice to show the enormity of this tub.  It could easily have fit 6 people.  It was almost the size of one of our stock tanks and I couldn't help but think of how much water it would actually take if someone wanted to fill the thing up. (I know what you're thinking... and NO.... you can't take the redneck out of the girl. )

Here's the view from the golf course. It was incredible! We jogged around a portion of it and there was not a blade of grass out of place.

Saturday morning, we woke up and played a round of golf... something that I really love, but never get to do.  We went back to the same golf course we played at together when we first met in college. It was a sentimental journey.

We didn't play half bad considering that we had to literally vacuum the spiderwebs off of our golf bags before we left for the trip.

It's our monsoon season, and the desert was green, and full of life.

After our round of golf, we put our swimsuits on and headed to the pool to cool off.  The wait staff carried fresh towels to our lounge chairs and walked around with beverages and sunscreen for everyone.  When they started handing out chilled, rolled-up wash cloths with a pair of tongs, I knew we weren't on the mountain anymore. 

After we sufficiently fried our white legs, we got cleaned up and went out for a night out on the town.  We ate Chinese food, and got a piece of cheesecake from the Cheesecake Factory to take back to the hotel room and enjoy while overlooking the city.

On Sunday morning we woke up bright and early and went for an invigorating hike up Ventana Canyon.  Afterward, we went out for breakfast, and it was time to pack up and make the long drive home.

We were so blessed on our little get-away.  It's the only time that we've celebrated our anniversary with more than just a dinner at a restaurant. I'll cherish it forever because at this stage of life, these luxuries are few and far between.  We missed our babies a ton, and we were so glad to see them when we got back home.  Our time spent together was a real treat!

Monday, August 13, 2012

7 Random Things

"Flowers from my boy."

Today was the first day of our sixth year of homeschooling, and so my brain is very tired this evening. We also have a HUGE week ahead, filled with tons of excitement so I can hardly concentrate to sit down and write a real blog post in paragraph form.

Instead, I'm going to haphazardly list some random thoughts in no particular order:

1. I think that my frazzled nerves are mostly recovered enough to tell  you that my husband had to weld on a natural gas pipe that holds a gazillion pounds of pressure on it...and he lived to tell the story. It involved flames the size of the Olympic torch, death defying feats, and other things that are dangerous. Jesus must work over-time to protect that man. I'm constantly praying for his safety. He thinks the whole thing was exciting, and I think he's crazy. The End.

2. I think I possibly have a small addiction to those Sonic Strawberry Island Breezes that I mentioned a while back. This came to light when I realized that I was subconsciously buying grain a few bags at a time instead of in bulk, in order to have an excuse to drive to the feed store which happens to be down the street from the Sonic. I wish I could buy Strawberry Island Breezes in bulk.... that would solve all of my problems, save me some diesel fuel, and support world peace.

3. I bought a jogging skirt... technically I think it's more like a "Skort" because it has shorts underneath. I haven't worn "skorts" since elementary school, and now I'm feeling like this may have been an impulse purchase. Would it look silly to see a 34 year old jogging down a dirt road in a skirt? Shoot. Now I'm having second thoughts about the whole thing. Maybe I should take it back.

4. I'm jogging about 3 miles every other day.  I fell off the jogging wagon after my race in February because of my battle with wretched shin splints, but I've been back at it for two months now.  This time I built up my distance very slowly using the C25K app on my iPhone as a guide, and it's made all of the difference in the world. I used to just run long distances cold turkey, but my shins revolted. With this new training method, I'm completely pain free.  Now, I'm going to continue with my torture training, and my next goal is to be able to run a 10K.

5. I haven't lost a single pound by jogging. That's the hard truth. It's a cruel, cruel world.  Strawberry Island Breeze consumption has nothing to do with this. Nothing at all.

6. I'm in the market for a new pair of boots. I have a complete vision of what they look like in my mind, but can NOT for the life of me, find them at a store in Arizona. I'm scared to order them on the internet. I'm a strict "try them on in the store and walk around in them" kind of girl. Some things are just better when purchased in person. 

7. My neurotic hen, Oreo, got into the garden today and devoured a zucchini that I had earmarked for making zucchini bread with. That bird drives me crazy! First the pecking of the wood stove in the kitchen, and now this?!? Who does she think she is?

I'll stop there because 7 is the number of  Biblical completion and all good lists have seven things on them.

I'm off to re-consider my jogging skirt purchase,


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Hog Scratchin'

Do you know what the difference between a pig and a hog is?

I'm testing your swine knowledge, here.

A pig is a swine weighing less than 120 pounds. A hog weighs over 120 pounds.

That's your useless fact for the day!

A lady never reveals her weight, but it's safe to say that Beulah is a hog and has been one for quite some time. *Wink, Wink*

We have five weeks left until our county fair, and the kids have been dutifully walking their pigs hogs twice a day to give them exercise.

  Hank looks forward to his time to run wild and free!  While he's out for his walk, our son brushes all over him.

The hogs are just like dogs. They'll lay down and roll over so you can scratch their bellies.

Beulah, on the other hand, hates exercise.  She throws an ever lovin' fit when my daughter comes to retrieve her from her mud hole.  She squeals, snorts, and shows attitude when she has to be walked.  When she finally leaves the pen, she takes her sweet ol' time, stopping to root up everything in her path.

She reminds me of some of the girls in my Jr. High gym class.

One thing that Beulah DOES look forward to is her daily pampering.  When my daughter pulls that brush out and starts scratching on her backside, all Beulah's cares melt away, and she takes on the posture of pure relaxation.

She lays there like a dead hog.  She lets my girl groom her feet, and she becomes putty in her arms.

She thinks that having her belly scratched is simply divine!

Personally,  I think it's therapeutic to scratch a hog's belly. It does something for the soul. It adds richness to your life. Just try to do it without smiling. I dare you. You can't scratch a hog's belly without grinning. No matter how bad your day is, you will get a warm, fuzzy feeling. Guaranteed!

Beulah is such a diva hog.

( We're in deep trouble here, folks. The kids' attachment to these market hogs is growing by the minute. I foresee tears shed at the fair. If they weren't so gosh darn cute, and hilarious, and personable, and loveable, and quirky.... oh no! I think I'm attached, too! )

Have you scratched a hog's belly, today?


Monday, August 6, 2012

Workin' for the Boss

While the rest of the world was sleeping in on Saturday, lounging around in their pajama pants, I was working hard.  My boss doesn't pay any over-time on weekends, either.  Can you believe that guy??? Luckily, I can kiss him any time I want because there aren't many other perks to the job. In fact, it's quite poopy...literally. (Just a little cow manure humor there!)

We had to do a few odds and ends, apply some pour-on to some cows, put in some fly tags, brand some cows we bought last winter, castrate a bull calf, work some calves etc. etc...

We also had to move a little group of cows from one pasture to another on the other side of the mountain.  Ideally, we'd bring a horse to work the calves, but the trailer would be filled to the max with pairs and we really didn't want to have to drive separately pulling two trailers over two hours if we could avoid it. There was just no more room, so we left the horse at home.

Big mistake.

The day started with a flat tire in the truck. We picked up a screw somewhere, and had to pull into the tire shop to get it repaired. That was the first thing to go wrong. Not a fabulous beginning.

Then we gathered the pasture and started working cows.  (My girls snapped a few pictures.) We could do most of our work in the alleyway, but we had to brand a few big cows in the chute.  The last cow to be worked, literally broke the squeeze by busting the welds on the chute.  Game over. 

Cows-1    Squeeze Chute-0

I couldn't believe my eyes. As I witnessed her little tantrum, I was thinking, "You have got to be kidding me." (My daughter really captured my expression well in this candid pic.)

Actually, not much surprises me anymore. The chute is archaic, and was practically free so my husband has to repair it from time to time to keep it limping along. It works fine for doctoring the occasional cow on our lease ground, but we desperately need to buy a new one. It's next on our "Put it on the List" list.

You are not going to believe this next part! After the last cow was pushed out the gate, my husband boss roped the bull calf that needed to be castrated... on foot. No horse.  

Then... (Here's where it get's hilarious)  a small rodeo ensues, and my husband yells, "Hurry up and flank him!!!!"


Dream on!
Do you see the size of that calf in the pictures???(FYI, my husband is 6'3" barefoot...for size comparison purposes.) The calf is barely 4 months old, but he's GINORMOUS! 

He must weigh 400, 500, one MILLION  pounds!!! (Said in the cackling voice of Dr. Evil.) I might be exaggerating a  tiny bit.

Who, exactly, does my husband think I am? The Incredible Hulk? Mr. T? The Terminator?

Let's just say that although I gave it a valiant effort, it wasn't going to happen.  

That's when my husband handed me the rope and said, "You hold him, I'll flank him."

Before I even had the opportunity to dally the rope to a post, or really sit back on it, the calf took me for a ride, and the second rodeo of the day commenced. As I was trying to tame the bucking bull, our son was yelling, "Can I heel him, Dad? Let me heel him!" 

I may, or may not have said an unkind word, turned in my resignation, and gave my boss the stink eye. It's all a blur. Who's to say how it really went down?

(There was picture documentation of the actual event...thanks to the photography skills of my 9 year old daughter. However, because of the unflattering angle of my rear-end region, expression on my face, and outcome, I will not be sharing it with you, my dear readers. I burned the evidence, metaphorically speaking.)

After things calmed down, my boss could see that it would be wise to just abort the mission and save the marriage, so he let the calf loose.

We loaded the pairs in the trailer and drove away from the scene of the incident. We turned onto the highway and my husband received a call.

It was from his buddy...who happens to know that my husband's motley work crew consisted of a wife, three young children, and no horse.

He asked my husband how it went. (All along, he knew perfectly well how it was going to go.)

My husband got a giant grin on his face, said that it went alright, and then laughter ensues on both ends of the line.

I don't know what was said on the other end of the phone, but the conversation ended with plans for the two of them to work the calves on horseback this week.

Hopefully, without me having to pull out my Wrestle Mania moves.

I think I'm going to call in sick on the day they work the calves, just to be sure.

The moral of this story:

When working cattle with your spouse, Remember..."Happy Wife, Happy Life.

I'm off to eat more Wheaties,