Enjoy the hunt

I had some time to kill during my lunch hour yesterday. It’d been a few months since I’d ventured in to the local antique store. I absolutely LOVE that place, and have to have a little self-control to keep my checkbook in the positive.

Maybe it’s because it is downtown and in an old department store building. Maybe it’s because you can breathe in all the history when you climb the steps to the top floor. Maybe it’s because I can see so many things from my great-grandparents, grandparents and parents’ homes. Maybe it’s because it reminds me of my own childhood and I get a little nostalgic when I go in there.

Maybe it’s because my own home is less than 10 years old. Maybe it’s because it’s all too “new” to me. I like old things, I like antiques mixed in with my own things. I try to pick up things here and there to make my home feel like me.

Just the other day I was in the old shed at our house looking for something to feed that kittens in and found another old Folgers coffee can. You can bet it made it back into the house. I’m sure my husband rolled his eyes when he saw the “new” Folgers can on the counter drying after a bath.

More than once have I been in an antique store and thought, “man, I should go through some of my stuff and see if I can peddle it.” Instead I decide to keep it because the sentimental value often outweighs the antique value of it. Until I have to have a separate building to house my treasures, I’ll keep picking and choosing my purchases. I do enjoy the hunt!

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I have an old funnel like this, and thought this was a good way to display it.

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My Grandmother Orebaugh had a cookie jar like this one.

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You should be proud Mom

Just when I think I’ve completely failed as a mother something happens to reassure me I’m not a complete screw up. Yet.

Last week my oldest had parent-teacher conferences. They are student-lead so he had to go with me. His teacher absolutely adores him and I think that helps him in excel in the classroom.

I should probably back up a little bit and explain my hesitance for this conference. Before Christmas break Shaun’s teacher sent home a progress report for the second quarter and he was below grade level for reading as well as handwriting. This frustrated me a little bit because learning came easy for me as a child. I loved to read and write. Shaun, not so much. I decided it was time for him to do a little extra work at home. I printed off a number of sight word practice sheets and decided to let him read to me instead of me reading the nightly bedtime book. It was frustrating at first, but it’s definitely gotten easier.

At his conference his teacher made the comment he was at a ‘G’ reading level and at this point (early March) normal is a ‘J’ level. Not too bad, I thought to myself and breathed a sigh of relief. I made a point to ask about his handwriting because on her report card it hadn’t improved. She was content with where he was at with writing, but I think it still needs work. We’ve slacked off some because of spring break and the time change, but we will get back at it.

The thing that stuck in my head about what she said about my son was he’s nice to everyone and he follows directions. Praise the Lord! I’m happy he’s nice because it’s so hard to be that way with the kind of diversity he has in his classroom. We work at home on following the rules and “doing as he’s told” and it’s admittedly a struggle for both of us. I’m glad some of my frustration is paying off and he’s turning into a good kid.

“You should be proud of him Mom,” his teacher said.

Admittedly, a compliment is a tough pill for me to swallow. When I was running barrels my horse was good. I trained her myself and I knew what she was capable of. It took many, many good runs for me to say thank you when I got a compliment from someone instead of just smile and nod. Now, I need to learn this when it comes to my boys.

My youngest has been going to daycare since January. Within the last few weeks his teachers have started to gush about him and say he’s so much fun. “Life’s never dull when Chance is around.” My normal response is usually, “oh really? You want to take him home?” The Chance I normally get is kind of grumpy, a little whiny and always asking for graham crackers.

I struggle with being a mom. It isn’t something that’s come very easy for me, and now that I’m elbow deep in this mess, I’m not real sure I’d change it. Catch me on a day like Monday when I lost my cool because of the constant pestering and I’d probably trade them off for a nickel. Or catch me on a day like last Sunday when Shaun rode my old brown mare without whining and listened to his mom tell him how to get her to go. Moments like that make me love him a little bit more.

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Windmill Wednesdays

I haven’t written on this blog in months. Time just won’t slow down for me. And when it does, I don’t want to write. Go figure.

I ran across something on another person’s blog called Windmill Wednesdays. I used to do wordless Wednesdays and would just post a photo with a very short caption. I got out of the habit of doing that too. I hope Windmill Wednesdays will allow me to share the seemingly millions of photos of windmills I have in my arsenal.

I had a hard time picking the first one, but here it is. It’s the windmill on our road just south of our house. Most often I get at shot of it with a sunset backing it up. This one was in the middle of the day, after an early summer rain. Enjoy!

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Changes

This past year hasn’t been kind to my family. I’m really hoping 2018 will be better. Five days in, so far so good! Ha!

The new year has brought changes to our routines and daily lives. My oldest son won’t go back to school until Jan. 8 and it’s been a struggle to get them back into the semblance of some sort of schedule. Secretly I tried to get them rounded up earlier in the morning, but we still managed to leave the house later than normal.

My mom has watched both of my kids since they were babies and I went back to work. I’ve been blessed to have her in our home and our lives. She’s really made this motherhood thing easy. Several years ago she broke her shoulder and had to have major surgery. Plates, pins and screws. Physical therapy, etc. She’s managed to get through, but the last several months she’s been in pain and finally decided to do something about it.

One appointment with an orthopedic surgeon didn’t go as she’d hoped, however, he gave her the push she needed to go back to the original surgeon and get a plan. I’ve been thinking about my child care plan since she told us she was going to have surgery. You can bet your sweet behind I’ve drug my feet finding alternative child care. I’ve been spoiled having my mom watch my kids.

This week I bit the bullet and made a few phone calls. Today, I committed to one and signed a enrollment check and handed off the paperwork. Man that was hard. I feel confident Chance will like where we’ve picked for him to attend, but I just don’t like change. We’ll have to adjust our schedules and I’ll have to get up earlier to get everything done in the mornings.

I  coworker put it best this morning when I announced Chance had new arrangements. “This needs to be her time to get well.” I sure hope she’s right. Now who wants to tell Grandma she’s now on the B team?

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Grandma with her grandsons Easter 2014.

I’m all ears

Last week it was six months since the fires. Six months since my Dad died. I chose not to write anything about it or even mention it on social media. A couple friends did and I just read what they wrote and kept scrolling.

I’m not going to lie, but it’s been hard. This year hasn’t been very kind to my family. I wrote something for my work blog and don’t really want to rehash it here, but it needed to be wrote. If you care to read it, it’s located here.

I offered advice to my readers about family farming disputes, and I honestly think my advice can apply to about any situation regarding family. The last paragraph sums it up pretty well.

Communicate. Plan. Discuss. Avoiding the tough conversation of who “gets the farm or ranch” won’t solve anything. Everything comes at a price. An open, honest conversation costs nothing.

My mother recently told me I need to help her clean out the closet I used during my years at home. I made an excuse—where am I going to put it in my own house?—and haven’t broached the subject again. I really don’t want to go through that stuff. I know what’s there. One day when I’m really ambitious, I will sort through my stuff. Hopefully it’s sooner rather than later.

I also made the same comment to my two boys that we needed to sort through their toys and gift some of them to my friend’s little boy. You would have thought I suggested giving their “baby horse” or “blankley” to him. Not what I was suggesting to them at all, but somehow I got them energized enough to clean the playroom enough to get it organized. One of these days when it’s too cold to do much outside, I will send them with their Dad and I will sort and purge. Then get the box of toys to my friend.

The debacle with the playroom and toys seriously made me consider not buying any more toys for Christmas and birthdays. I do think the youngest is too young to appreciate doing “experiences” for gifts instead of physical toys that will just take up space and drive his mother crazy. But I’m considering tucking away part of the money spent on toys and creating a fund for experiences. Trips to the zoo or amusement park; a family vacation or trip somewhere out of state; even a train or plane ride.

I’m a crappy housekeeper, and the toys just seem to multiply. Same with the dirty socks, granola bar wrappers and stickers. It’s just hard to keep up. If you have thoughts or ideas about curbing the overabundance of toys in my house I’m all ears.

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The good Lord is watching

The pens are now empty. There’s no more bawling calves or cows looking after their babies. The leftover bales of hay sit in the farm yard. The round top shed is a little emptier. Our souls are a little emptier too.

If you would have told me five and a half years ago this is how it’d end up I wouldn’t have believed you. But this is what it’s came down to. The cowherd is at the livestock auction as I type this. Some probably have already been sold.

There’s been an agreement reached and now we have to move on. We have to depend on ourselves more than we ever have. I took some photos on Sunday because the light was so very beautiful and I wanted one last reminder of the day. I posted them on social media and had more than a few people reach out with encouragement. One comment from a dear friend read, “This may not be the day you want, but the good Lord is watching.” She is so right. We have to pick ourselves up and do the right thing. We have to do what is right for us.

Nearly 3 months ago the ugly wildfires on the day I buried my Dad was the worst thing I’d been through in my 38 years on earth. Sunday when we hauled those cows, calves, bulls and heifers to town is squarely situated in second place for worst experiences of my life. I’ve hauled cattle to town before because of the drought, not knowing if Dad’s pasture would ever have momma cows and scampering babies in it. It did.

I was at a meeting a few weeks ago covering it for my day job. The speaker helped attendees gather the tools they needed to make hard decisions and remain profitable in ranching. One thing he said was, “those cows will be dead in 15 years, but that land will be there forever.” How true and it really struck a chord with me. It’s hard to look at life that way when the cattle who have been the center of my husband’s universe since 2012 are being loaded into a truck to be sold.

As we prepare to move on and become the people we want to be, I look toward the future. I can’t help but wonder how things will eventually turn out. Another good friend told me yesterday if this door you’re seeking doesn’t open, then maybe there’s something better coming. I sure hope so. I’ve had enough of the bad.

Dad would know

In the month plus since my Dad has died, I’ve had more than a few instances where I desperately wanted to pickup the phone and ask him something. Car is making a funny noise, ask Dad. Tires are wearing funny, ask Dad. The neighbor has a new pickup, ask Dad where it came from. He’d know.

My husband and I were coming back from the dentist office and noticed a shed along the highway getting new metal siding. I thought the property was owned by someone else, he thought the guy using it owned it. Without even missing a beat, I said, I bet Dad would know. Then I sighed. My Dad was a bit of a gossip and loved to find information out before anyone else.

The other day a coworker asked where my Dad’s name Valere came from. I don’t recall any conversation besides the one where we were told his mother came up with it. So off to Google it I go. Valere is Latin and means to be strong or be well. In French it means brave. I like the second meaning better. Dad was brave. He wasn’t always right, but he did what he wanted and lived life his way. To me that’s brave.

Lately I’ve been going through some issues in my personal life and they’ve all seemed to heap on me at once. I was looking for verses, quotes and sayings on Pinterest and the Be Brave ones just really struck me. I even created a cover photo for my Facebook page that says just that. I don’t like change. I don’t like stepping out of my comfort zone. I also don’t like people who are mean and do things to hurt others. I’m trying really hard to forgive a couple of those people, but it’s just easier to forget them. I have to be brave to do that.

I’d also been sitting on a couple of voice mail messages that I couldn’t make myself listen to. Mostly because they were from my Dad. My phone has been giving me the dreaded “storage is full” and I’ve been trying to clean it up since I’m too cheap to get a new phone right now and don’t want to lose any of the 4,000-some odd photos I have on there. So one night when I was feeling particularly down, I was brave and listened to them. Same old Dad message, “Kylene, this is your Dad. Call me back.” But this time I could hear the age in his voice. I could hear the sickness. I could hear all the things I never wanted him to be. Especially gone.

Those phone messages are still there. I was brave enough to listen to them again, but I’m not brave enough to delete them. They just might migrate to a new phone when I decide to purchase another. I’ve got plenty of room for the next photos for now. I don’t have to be brave all at once.

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Dad and I during the Father-Daughter dance at my wedding, July 18, 2009.

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I don’t get it

My 3-year-old son, Chance, has been saying, “I don’t get it” for the past couple of weeks. I’m not real sure when he picked it up or why he continues to say it. Makes me think he knows a lot more than I give him credit for.

Does he understand why his Mom and Dad have been stressed?

Does he understand his Grandpa Orebaugh died and he won’t see him any more? Does he understand why Grandma is sometimes sad?

Does he know the farm burned to the ground and he won’t get to spend the time in the same places his Dad did?

Does he know his Mom and Dad are trying to continue a legacy?

I sure hope he understands these things. Well not right now, but in time. I hope he understands we are doing the best we can for him and his brother.

Families sometimes suck. Friends sometimes suck. Some people just suck. When times get tough the true colors and friends will show. Those who care will be there. Those who have nothing to gain by helping won’t. Those who care will pray. Those who don’t won’t.

I don’t get why people change face and leave behind the ones they once cared for. I don’t get how people let money get in the way of their happiness. I don’t get why our most favorite people have to leave us and leave messes behind.

I don’t get it either Chance.

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The Lord will provide

I haven’t written in some time. Work has been busy. Life has been busy. I now have a tiny bit of time so I’m going to take it to write something about what we’ve been doing, and what has been on my mind.

My Dad, Valere Orebaugh passed away early on March 1. He’d been in and out of the hospital and was moved to a nursing home where he was supposed to get better and go home. He had days where he was better, but the bad days started out numbering the better ones. The day before he died Mom called us all in and I secretly hoped my boys being there would snap him out of it. But it really didn’t. I do know he knew we were there and he was surrounded by his family at least for a few hours.

This morning I was helping Chance get dressed and he said, “that smells like Poppa.” I’m not real sure what he smelled, but I didn’t catch a whiff of it, so I wasn’t for sure. I was telling an acquaintance at lunchtime about what he’d said and she shared her own wisdom on the subject. Chance and my Dad spent a lot of time together the past 2 years, and I’m not real sure how much a 3-year-old can grasp about death, but I do know he misses his grandpa.

When I was coming into the office this morning, I paused to gather my things and make sure I had everything and realized the song I heard the morning my dad died was again on the radio. I don’t know if I’d heard it since the day he died on the station, but there it was My Old Man by the Zac Brown Band.

And while I was working on pages this morning, I had my normal Pandora radio station playing and it was Stoney Larue’s “Forever Young.” That was the song I had played at my wedding for the Father/Daughter dance. When it was time to choose a song for the dance, I really couldn’t decide on one. A friend suggested one to me, and at the time it just fit. It still does. I think I chose it because I always wanted him to be forever young.

For as long as I can remember I thought of my dad as young, even though he was one of the older parents of my classmates. Maybe it was because he was tanned and strong, spending his days on the tractor or outdoors. Maybe it was because he liked new things. More than once I remember Mom cussing him because he came home with a new pickup or a new pair of boots.

But these last few years have been hard with his health. In 2007 he had a quadruple bypass surgery and even then they told him his time was limited. His heart was pretty badly damaged and they told him he wasn’t a candidate for the transplant list because of his age and health. Admittedly I was shocked we had him for 10 more years. I’m thankful for those extra years. He got to meet my two boys and become a part of their lives.

While planning Dad’s funeral we came across his wishes for the memorial and he wanted to be buried in a small country cemetery. The land around it was farm ground he used to rent and farm when we were kids. I remember helping him switch out anhydrous tanks at this particular place and watching the hose come off, spraying the noxious gas everywhere. He yelled at me, “get in the pickup!” It was a pretty scary situation, but we were both lucky to come out unscathed.

On the day of his funeral it was terribly windy. Gusty, nasty wind. But it was also nearly 80 degrees so it was almost tolerable during the graveside service. Once we’d returned to the church we all noticed heavy smoke clouds in the south part of town. It was not a good situation. After we’d returned home my husband’s phone rang. A family friend alerted him to a fire very near the Scott farm. It wasn’t good. In fact it was awful. The farmhouse, the barn, hay stockpile and grass all burned. The cows and calves managed to survive, but there have been a few that had to be culled because they weren’t going to have the quality of life they deserve.

I work for an agricultural publication and was asked to write about my experience. You can read my post titled, “The worst day of my life” on the High Plains Journal website. After I’d returned home after seeing the devastation with my own eyes, I called my mom and said, “I don’t know if I can even write it.” She said just do it.

This past week its been read and shared a number of times. I got to speak with Kansas Senator Pat Roberts about my experience and he even read my words on the floor of the Senate in Washington DC. Yesterday, I received a letter from Kansas Senator Jerry Moran. Both were moved by the strength in my words. I’m not real sure how much strength I do have, as it’s really a trying situation. But one thing I do know is farmers and ranchers are some of the best people on the planet. We’ve gotten truckloads of hay. Offers to help us pick up the pieces. All of it, we are so grateful for. Words cannot express how much we are thankful for these people. I thanked a few of them in my second blog for work, “Only thing I know.”

At the Roberts fire tour, I overheard a woman from Englewood, Kansas who lost her home and all her belongings. She told the senator, “the Lord will provide.” And I believe her. Ask, and He will provide.