My retreat

It’s funny how a personal possession can become part of your identity. Sure I know this is just a horse trailer that I’m writing about, but to me it was really something more.

I was a little fish out in the big world with my first real job following college graduation. Mom and Dad had provided my sister and I a lot growing up. From horses to saddles and pickups and trailers. When I graduated from college, slowly they wanted me to find my own way and pay for my own stuff. I wasn’t spoiled by any means, but this was a tough pill to swallow. During college we had a nice Cherokee 3 horse trailer which we both loved and shared. We’d sold our previous trailer and put a down payment on the Cherokee. A decision had to be made at one point, and my sister was able to take the trailer and continue paying on it. So I was left to find something of my own.

I borrowed a trailer for a while and caught rides with other people. Lucky for me I had a friend who was selling trailers at the time in Tulsa when I was living in Woodward, Oklahoma. My then boyfriend, now husband and I decided to partner on buying a trailer in 2003. Ideally, this trailer was just what we were looking for, but my only hangup was it was red. GMC red to match the previous owners vehicle. No where near my favorite color.

What we bought was a S&H 3 horse gooseneck trailer with a small dressing room. If it could talk, it might just tell you all the miles and places it went once we pulled it home from Tulsa in March 2003. From barrel races to ropings to moving us from Oklahoma back to Kansas. Just too many to keep track of.

It very well may have been the ugliest trailer at the rodeos or barrel races, but in reality, it’s not what you pull up at in, instead what you lead out of the trailer. That red trailer many times only had one horse in it but it helped me qualify for the Kansas Professional Rodeo Association finals several years.

More than once that red trailer gave me a place to reflect after a bad run or rejoice after a great one. A number of times I sat on the fender and cried because my mare was hurt or needed doctored. Several times we made the trip to Oklahoma State University’s vet school for colic. One of my most vivid memories is getting to O’Keene, Oklahoma and being pulled over by the highway patrol because I was speeding through town during the middle of the night to get her to the hospital. The return trip from her colic surgery was almost as terrifying because I was so worried about her getting so sick weeks before. But we made it home in one piece. Like we did hundreds of times following.

Another time we’d went to a February barrel race in Chickasha, Oklahoma and when it started snowing on the way home we had to find some where to stay the night. Praise the Lord for friends who let you crash at their place and put your horses up for the night. Mike successfully unfroze the dressing room door so we could get our bags out.

In the weeks after I had my first child I often needed a break and a reprieve from the smothering times of early motherhood. I’d sneak out of the house at nap time and sit on the fender and ponder my existence or bawl, which ever came first.

I could go on and on about the trips I drug that trailer down the highway but I’ll spare you. Getting rid of this trailer is like losing a piece of my being. Since having kids and not running barrels for the past few years it feels as though pieces of what used to make up me are leaving one by one.

So last night after I cleaned out the ugly red trailer and packed all my belongings away I sat on the fender and had one more good cry and reflection. I’m still not ok with this piece of the old me leaving but I guess it leaves a spot for something new.

Advertisements

Don’t cuss Mom..

Don’t cuss Mom because she probably has already done it herself. Here’s why.

Maybe she forgot to thaw the meat out for supper and we had cereal again. Maybe she is out of ideas and is tired of hearing “I don’t like that!” or “I don’t want to eat that!”

Maybe she’s got a full-time job and is plumb wore out mentally when she picks the kids up and heads home for the evening. One more “why can’t I?” might just send her over the edge.

Maybe she’s worried about how to pay this bill or how to float the checking account until the next pay day. Or she’s checked the bill schedule three times to make sure she’s paid what has to be paid first.

Maybe she’s not the skinny girl any more who can’t fit into her size 5 jeans she has boxed up in the closet she wishfully thinks might fit again some day. They might just be back in style by the time that happens.

Maybe she’s the one doing all the chores again with little help. What’s she going to get out of it? She surely doesn’t know as she dumps that feed bucket or folds the endless mountain of laundry. At least everyone is fed and taken care of and won’t starve for one more day.

Maybe she’s the one who questions her every thought and action as a mother. “Do I yell too much?” “Should I have been that harsh?” Has she accepted she won’t win any mother of the year any time soon?

Maybe she wants nothing more than to have 10 minutes to herself and not have to worry about a single thing. That could possibly include a soft couch and a cold beer.

Every mother is different. Some are kind and sweet. Some are stern and strong. Some are brave and bold. They end up being the kind they need to be. At least this one is.

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!

IMG_9733

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

IMG_9735

My Grandmother Orebaugh had a cookie jar like this one.

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.

IMG_8614-1sm

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!

IMG_7838sm

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?

IMG_7629

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.

IMG_7716

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.

dadandIdance2

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

BeBrave