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.

Shopping around

Whenever I’m in a parking lot or driving down the highway, I notice the license tags on cars. It’s interesting to me to see where someone is from. At a couple of stores in my town I tend to pay particular attention to the counties on the tags.

A bigger town west of here just got their very own Hobby Lobby (among other stores) and the grumblings going on here in Dodge City are that our store is likely to close. Someone even said the employees are “trained” to say ours will remain open. Today when I stopped in HL for some sewing supplies, I noticed an older lady with a Grant County tag on her car. Garden City is a lot closer to Grant County than we are I thought to myself. Wonder why she’s shopping here? While walking up to the doors, I thought maybe she doesn’t like crowds, or she doesn’t like driving in Garden City. I’m with you there ma’am. The added traffic and people in the stores can be a little overwhelming.

As I started down the main aisle to find the velcro I was looking for, it occurred to me if those same people doing the grumbling would SHOP in our town, maybe our stores could stay open. Your pennies spent in our HL will help keep it open. Maybe if they supported the community we would get some of the stores Garden City has. It doesn’t have to be every time you are shopping for something, but make a point to buy something local. On the other hand, do we want the added development that Garden City has experienced? I’ve heard property taxes are going up in Finney County among other things.

I’ve also heard our city and county commissioners are out to sabotage progress in Dodge City. I’m not exactly sure if this is true, but the only way to change how something is run in a city is to get involved, go vote and participate in local government. Only the commissioners know their agenda and what the future is for our town. They have no idea what the locals think and want unless the voices are heard. If you want something to change (as the morning radio DJ I listen to says) – stop complaining and  change it.

I’ve always believed the notion that those who complain the loudest do the least amount of work. I feel like this applies to people and businesses in this town. You didn’t like the service at ____ restaurant. Did you speak with a manager? Did you file a complaint with corporate? Boycotting a restaurant may or may not help the situation, but is it a solution? What is the solution to bad customer service?

I tend to shop in my town or in towns I am traveling through. If there’s not XYZ store in my town, but in another, I will likely stop if I’m in the area and occasionally buy if the price is right. If the neighboring town happens to have the same store we do, I will shop in my town (even though the sales tax is cheaper else where). While I do like looking online for purchases and use it as a comparison tool, often times in the end shipping always seems to cost entirely too much and the mail carriers not being able to find my house or they won’t ship to a P.O. box make it not worth the hassle.

In the end, shop where you want, but if you have something to complain about, take it somewhere else. I get enough whining from my two boys. I find myself telling my three-year-old if you’re going to whine, go in your room, I don’t want to hear it. Stores can’t survive if you don’t spend money there and shop somewhere else. Communities can’t survive if it’s residents don’t support it.

It’s all a process

When I wrote last about Chance needing a helmet to fix his flat spot on his head, it was July. Here we are in September and he’s closing in on actually having a helmet to wear.

The helmets aren’t cheap and aren’t ordered until funding is secured. The clinic we went to suggested we try doing a pre-determination request with our insurance. Nearly two weeks later we got the answer I was expecting, “No. It’s not medically necessary.” Another call to the clinic again gave me a list of funding sources. I called a couple and after the first call I was rather discouraged. The guy basically laughed at me and told us we make too much money. I’m sorry, $2,800 is quite a chunk for people who work hard and have good jobs to come up with all at once. But, where there is a will, there is a way.

A week ago we took Chance back to the clinic in Wichita to get “casted” for a helmet. The process involves a cap with sensors that is connected to a computer. An orthotist then scanned his head using a “gun” – much like what they use to scan items in a store. The scan sent information into a computer program and wha la, there’s a 3D model of Chance’s head on the computer screen. From this they make the helmet for him to wear.

When faced with the option of what color to get Chance’s helmet in, I was drawn to the camo. He’s a little boy, and what mother of a little boy doesn’t gravitate towards camo? My husband wasn’t as keen on the camouflage as I was, so we opted for a solid color. Then it was a choice between white or black? Creative parents huh? I questioned the orthotist as to what we could do to the helmet to spiff it up on our own. Stickers were completely acceptable. Well there you go. Chance will have a half Oklahoma State Cowboys and half Kansas State Wildcats helmet! He may not know the difference between the teams or even if they exist, but people will know his parents are college football fans! At least when people stare (and I know they will) they will have something interesting to look at!

Chance waiting to get scanned for his helmet while big brother entertains him.

Chance waiting to get scanned for his helmet while big brother entertains him.


Chance the rock star

I’ve heard siblings’ personalities can be like night and day, and with my boys I believe it. My second son is one of the easiest going, happiest kids I have ever been around. I’m pretty partial, but every where we have taken him he’s been great. He only cries when he’s hungry or annoyed and shares a lot of smiles. Tuesday was no different.

In the last month of my pregnancy with Chance I remember feeling as though he was stuck in a weird position and my right side always seemed to have some sort of ache or pain. I didn’t think much about it as Shaun was wedged in a similar position. There’s not much room to go in my 5-foot something frame. When Chance was born on his scheduled birthday, I was brought to tears because he was “so small” (as small as an 8 pounder could be) and I got to hear him cry. I didn’t get to see my first son or hear him cry due to complications with my cesarean so it was a little overwhelming.

After we got settled into a routine at home, I noticed Chance liked to sleep a lot and normally kept his head turned right. By his two month appointment we questioned our doctor about the flat spot forming on the back of his head. He suggested several positioning techniques and more tummy time. We tried what he suggested, but the flatness stayed. By his four-month appointment the “funny shaped” head was pretty prominent. I again expressed my concerns to the doctor and he felt the same as me. After some investigation he sent us to an occupational therapist in Wichita and we had an appointment with a helmet company.

As the days approached for the appointment I felt anxious. What would they do or say? Internally I was blaming myself for not giving him the room he needed in utero or not putting him to sleep in another position. I just wanted sleep and the way he went to sleep and stayed asleep was fine with me so I could get some rest. I am his mother, so it’s my job to do whats best for him and I’ve felt like I’ve failed.

After the appointment with the occupational therapist they told us he has torticollis. Basically his neck muscles are tight on his left side and thus the flat spot on his head. Also, due to his cranial measurements they suggested he get fitted for a helmet. Although i knew it was a possibility, I was still disheartened.

But after catching glimpses of the other kids in the occupational therapy clinic, my thoughts of worry and failure didn’t seem very important. We are blessed to have him and will work through what ever is thrown our way.

See Mom, I can sit up all by myself.

See Mom, I can sit up all by myself.

Light at the end of the tunnel

My little boy will turn one in about a week. Today in the mail was a bill from the hospital where he was born. Insurance paid (thankfully) a large portion of the bills from his birth and a hospital stay when he was about three weeks old. Since we’re not made of money I made payment arrangements to pay it out. I’m getting closer to having them all paid down, but it’s kind of hard to believe that its taken so long.

I joke with Spence when ever he rough houses with Shaun, “Don’t break him, he’s not paid for yet!” Some day he will be paid for..

Shaun and Spence at the wedding this past weekend.

A $7 taco

I caught an episode of Two and a Half Men recently and the scene showed Alan playing what I would call “credit card roulette.” Pay this card with this card, and then this one with that card. But what do I do with the last bill to pay? Hmmm…

My finances aren’t quite that bad, but I still have some credit cards that I wish I would have never gotten. I was a stupid college kid living out-of-state and trying to live on my own when a Discover card offer flashed in front of my naive eyes. I jumped on it and used it to pay everything from meals out with friends to entry fees at the rodeos. Shockingly they gave me a $2,500 limit way back then and I didn’t even have a job! Sucked me in, and it didn’t take me very long to get it up to its limit.

I still have that card, and it’s still got a balance on it along with crazy interest. I’ve been trying to get them paid off, but seems like a never-ending battle. Sure I could get serious and cut out all non-essential items out of my budget and sock it way to pay off that Discover bill from college, but what fun would that be? Still seeing several hundred dollars go out of my account to pay off credit cards should be some incentive to get rid of them, right?

I haven’t used my Discover card for years. Last three cards they sent me I never activated and shredded. Within the last two years they have upped my limit at least 4 times, maybe 5. I guess it makes the balance I do carry on it look not as bad – at least in my eyes anyway – now that there is a lot more than $50 of credit (like I used to have in college) remaining on it.

Today in my mailbox was a letter from Discover, and guess what? They upped my limit once more. Why keep upping my limit? Do they think they are going to entice me to use it? Not a chance. No way, no how. Heck, I’m still paying for that $7 taco from college.