Going again

Saturday afternoon I sat behind a table and announced times at a barrel race. It’s been months since I’ve done this. It was a little refreshing watching the exhibitions and see the new horses and new people running. I was a little shocked by the number of new faces at the race and how many I didn’t know. That’s a good thing right?

I haven’t entered a barrel race in probably 5 years. My horse got old, and was (what seemed like) constantly hurt. Plus I had 2 young kids to chase around and struggle with finding childcare besides pawning them off with their grandma. I’ve written before about not going to any races. I’ve promised myself a million times I’ll get another one going.

Saturday I felt a little inkling of wanting to ride again regularly and start another horse. Someone asked me if I was going to run that day, and I jokingly replied, “On foot! I haven’t rode in months.” I had a little bit of a conversation with my sister and told her I don’t want to put time and investment in a horse that I don’t know if it can run fast enough to scatter it’s own shit.

I guess it’s because I feel like my time is so valuable now, that I don’t want to waste it. But I am wasting an opportunity to get another one trained because I can’t get out of the house. I’m already a crappy housekeeper and cook, and it’s really a chore to be able to get a meal on the table, kids bathed and to bed on time and homework done before it’s 9 p.m.

It’s taken me this long to not have guilt about retiring my mare and not running any more. I sure hope it won’t take me another 5 years to get over the guilt of leaving things undone in the house to go ride. I never cared before I had kids if the house was clean, dishes were done and supper was made. Now there’s 2 little boys who always need something from me.

Someone made the comment to me the other day about how the kids come first and I should just get over it if they need something before I do. I was completely annoyed. Mom also needs to do something for herself and be some semblance of what she was before kids. She’s not there just to be someone’s Mom. She was a person before kids and she’ll be a person after those kids are grown and gone. I will provide, protect and nurture those boys the best I know how but I also don’t want to have to lose myself in the process. And if that means taking a couple hours a week to ride then so be it.

Advertisements

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.

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.

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 a rural voter

I’m far from a political person. Never have been. Last night was the first time I’ve ever stayed up past my bed time to watch election results. The comments from one of the commentators about rural voters turned my stomach the moment I heard it. I’m one of those rural voters “forgotten” about in middle America.

I’m one of those rural voters who joined the droves to vote yesterday. I’ve voted in a half-dozen presidential elections since my first vote in 1996. This was the first time I had to stand in line and wait my turn to cast a ballot. I stood in line for an hour to vote, while others I know spent two. But I wasn’t disgruntled to do so. I was proud to let my little voice be heard.

img_6107

Rural to me, are my friends, family, coworkers and acquaintances. We love our little towns, our one stop light communities and the farmers and ranchers who are on our school boards and town committees. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with being designated as rural (in my humble opinion.) What’s wrong with the rural designation is others assume by being rural, we’re uneducated and our votes aren’t as important. We’re not uneducated and our votes are just as important as someone who lives in downtown Denver.

The non-rural folks standing on the other side are unwilling to understand rural. I, however, try to see where they’re coming from. They don’t need us (so it seems.) They don’t see us. They don’t run into us on their streets or in their stores. They rarely come here. Do they appreciate all the things I appreciate of rural people? We’re mostly kind, mostly simple and most of all, we’re important. We’ve stood by the last 8 years and suffered through trade embargos, falling commodity prices and lack luster cattle markets and we’re still here. You won’t find us out in the streets destroying property and running a muck protesting. Rural folks are tough, and often can take a beating and keep on ticking.

I’m not upset by the election. I’m upset because of the words. I’m saddened people resort to name calling over something they don’t have much control over. And I too, as a member of the media, take offense to how these so-called journalists have chosen to take sides. I may be simple-minded because I chose to remain in agricultural media, but I’m still part of the media. I interview, photograph and tell the story of America’s famers and ranchers. I tell their stories in the most fair and balanced way possible. I may not always agree with what I’m listening to but I leave my bias and personal opinions out of my stories. I try to tell both sides. Truly, I don’t agree with mainstream media and all the misconceptions they’ve strewn about in this election.

I’m a woman and I’m offended by thoughts others have of my gender and why everyone assumes women should vote for a first woman president. We need a better candidate for the first woman president than we were presented with this year. I’m offended because I’m college-educated, rural and a woman and some hopped up “mainstream media” person just assumes I’m not important.

A college coach once told me don’t assume anything, it just makes an ass out of you and me. As much as I disliked the guy, he’s correct in his thinking. Mainstream media assumed their chosen candidate would win, but they were sadly mistaken when the rural votes pushed the eventual winner over the top.

So, before I fill another ten paragraphs about the election, I’m going to stop and say, if you don’t like something change it. If you don’t like what’s going on in America right now, start with your own home. Change things there, and it will snowball. We need stronger families, children and parents. We need strong workplaces. We need to improve ourselves before this country can get strong again.

 

**Edited to add: I had a comment on this post that lead me to add some more of my thoughts to the original post.**

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog post and to spend the time to comment on it. I appreciate your insight! My post came about because I was fired up after listening to the commentators continually use the term “rural uneducated” out of context, out of connotation and the continued use of it during their broadcasts on election night.

I admitted in my first sentence politics is one of my least favorite things. Admittedly because of it, I don’t know all the specifics about each campaign, nor do I care to. Not once did I say whom I voted for or provide any indication of endorsement of a certain candidate. My 5-year-old son asked me who I voted for, and I told him frankly, that’s none of your business. It’s mine. He didn’t understand, but accepted it.

In my post, I made the statement, “What’s wrong with the rural designation is others assume by being rural, we’re uneducated and our votes aren’t as important.” Yes, by that, I mean we weren’t weighted appropriately in the polling data. We weren’t a serious consideration. Again, politics is FAR from my wheelhouse and I choose to be that way, because I don’t know the specifics about polling, data and the like.

I’m simple. It doesn’t take much to make me happy. What I do take case with is how our lawmakers make it difficult to live the way we want to. I’m sure others struggle with this as well, even though they’re not in agriculture.

Again, throughout my post, I was talking about how rural votes were overlooked (by the data) and mainstream media. Even though I didn’t come out and directly say that. I wasn’t discussing the polling data, bias or any other things you’ve mentioned. I’m not well versed in any of that, and prefer not to discuss something I don’t know much about and thus not comfortable with.

I don’t agree with mainstream media’s or your definition of me being less educated. I went to college and received two degrees. I worked hard to become educated, and I’m happily still paying off those student loans because of it. I’ve been out of academia since 2002, and I’ve lived life and learned from the college of hard knocks as well. I have parents who never went to college. My twin sister and I were the first in our family to graduate from college. I’ve learned from them and have common sense because of them. It takes talent, smarts and experience to operate the tractor, truck or pickup used to plow fields, haul crops to town or feed cattle. Just because many rural folks are what you deem uneducated does not mean they are unintelligent. Some of the farmers and ranchers I’ve met in my day job are the smartest, most intelligent people I’ve met and often don’t hold a college degree. I’ve also met those with multiple, upper-level degrees, and they are not someone I’d consider smart.

A friend of mine made a really good point to me about education and I’m going to steal her quote and share it here, “The minute you think that school diplomas make you educated, you come out to Kansas and help my husband overhaul a loader transmission and engine (which he did at age 14) and tell me how educated that college degree in Poli-Sci makes you feel. There are an overwhelmingly high number of dropouts in inner cities and urban areas, and a lack of good education in those areas. Out here, we have great education, smaller classes and a higher number of citizens who demand we be responsible for ourselves. Accountability is huge and part of that comes with being ‘educated’.”

So, even though, I don’t know what the president-elect will bring, what I hope is we can continue to live in rural America and prosper. Our definitions of prosper may be vastly different, but I want my children to have happy parents who work at something they love and at the same time can provide for the family. I don’t want us as parents to be saddled with debt because we choose to live in rural America.

 

img_6109

Be still my heart

Wednesday was the last official day of summer. I love summer time. The extra long days and warm weather. Tan lines and swimming pools. I even love the heat. I’m not as used to it as I once was, but I still like a good, dry heat with a little breeze.

The boys and I had arrived home later than normal on Wednesday because they wanted to stop and see their cousin. My husband was abnormally early that day and rode out to check the heifers and get a good count. He was closing the pasture gate when we got home and the boys begged from the backseat to go ride. Dad obliged and saddled all three horses. I started supper and went out to check on them only to be promptly left afoot since there was nothing left to ride. I went back in the house to get something and looked out the patio door to see the most beautiful light and my three boys riding across the CRP grass east of our house. I immediately grabbed my camera and shoes and headed out. As they got back to the house, the heifers had lined up against the horse pasture fence and I walked out to get some photos of them.

I couldn’t wait to get to the office the next day to see what I captured. The images I recorded made my heart swell. Of course I shared them on my social media and I’ve had way more praises than I ever wished for. I enjoy photography and enjoy my loyal subjects. I’ve also been teaching myself Lightroom, so I edited my favorites as well.

Here’s a few photos from that evening.

edit-0633edit-0639edit-0643edit-0646edit5-0663edit5-0682

Losers live forever and the good die young

The title of this blog is a line from one of my favorite Jason Boland and the Stragglers songs, Pearl Snaps. I can’t help but think how appropriate it is for the last couple of weeks.  It’s always the good guys or the good horses who go too early.

A friend of mine recently lost her husband after a horse wreck at a ranch horse competition. He held on for five days before succumbing to his injuries. While I knew Nicole better than her husband, it didn’t help me from grieving. Today was the funeral, and I think for at least my husband and I it hit especially hard. Similarities exist that make it easy to compare.

Walking into the church I couldn’t help but notice the crisp, white pearl snapped shirts many of the pall bearers wore. Along with their tanned hands, sun-kissed faces and ears and the obvious dents in their hair lines from hats. Chris’ hat, rope and leggings had lovingly been placed atop his casket – never to be worn by him again.  Later I noticed a hat under a chair with a program sitting in it and behind me I heard the emotion coming from a friend. I’m not real sure why things happen to good people who have so much life left to live.

Usually I find comfort in knowing someone has gone “home” to be with the Lord, but this time I struggle with it. Those two boys need their dad. Nicole needs her husband. The boys need him to teach them how to hold a rope or become the horsemen he was. My husband said Chris would have made a good old man, like many who were in attendance today. I believe that too.

During the service the pastor read a prayer Roy Rogers would read before his Riders Club meetings. It sure gave me comfort today, and I’m sure it did others.

Lord, I reckon I’m not much just by myself,
I fail to do a lot of things I ought to do.
But Lord, when trails are steep and passes high,
Help me ride it straight the whole way through.

And when in the falling dusk I get that final call,
I do not care how many flowers they send,
Above all else, the happiest trail would be,
For You to say to me, “Let’s ride, My Friend.”
Amen

The family also prepared a video of photos from Chris’ life and I was ok up until they started showing photos of his young sons. Then it was all over but the crying for me. Literally.

As we were leaving the church, people were milling around and I heard the distinct sound of shod hooves on concrete. I looked around to see Chris’ horse saddled and being led by a family friend. How appropriate and sad all at the same time. We watched as the horses followed the hearse up the hill to the cemetery. We couldn’t bear going to the graveside service.

I often try to gather something from a church service (or a funeral in this case). I feel as though I need to be better at letting those around me how much I do care. It’s hard for me to physically say how I feel, when it’s much easier to write it down. Hence this blog. But I will try. You just never know when it will be your turn to ride away.

14332977_10210382913278241_2458891896815461477_n

Chris Moore with one of his sons. (Photo shared on Facebook.)

There’s always something new

I’d started this post 7 months ago, and never finished it. Yesterday I had another idea that very closely related to this draft. So here I am, in June to finish a post I started in December.

In my house every day is an adventure with two young boys. Whether it be grandma calling to tell me “you know what your son did,” or how the boys are starting to interact (or fight) with one another.

In December it was one of those, “How did you do that?” nights. The youngest was nearly two years old, and as he was then and even now, he finds ways to keep us on our toes. On that night, I had changed his diaper and didn’t put his pants back on because bath time was nearing. In the 10 minutes we’d been back out in the living room he’d done something – probably screaming – to merit a few minutes in the corner to think about it. While he was in the corner I started to look for something to watch on TV. Then I heard a noise. I looked over there and Chance was sitting proudly holding up his diaper for me. I could do nothing but laugh. He was pretty dang proud of himself.

More recently the babysitter called right before noon to ask if the oldest went to school that day. Indeed he had, but the bus hadn’t shown up nearly 50 minutes after dismissal. I called the school (in a panic) and got transferred around, but finally found out his bus was delayed because of a parent who was late. By the time I’d gotten the babysitter called back Shaun had arrived safe and sound.

In early May we got a decent amount of rain and it filled the ditches on either side of our drive way. Even though it was still pretty cool, the boys decided it would be a good idea to play in the mud. Mom was not impressed when I opened the back door to call them in for supper and found them both standing in knee-deep mud and covered in it. I had to laugh. At least it wasn’t cow manure. (Speaking from experience.)

IMG_5242

And again this past weekend we had one more of those moments that merited a blog post. It was Sunday before Memorial Day and the boys and I headed out to feed horses. They enjoy going in the round pen next to the horses because it has solid metal walls that are about 6 feet tall. They can run and scream to their heart’s content. I’ve considered putting their toys in there to contain them, but after our experience Sunday night I’m reconsidering. I’d shut the gate on them and in the time it took me to dump one more bucket of grain and walk to the gate on the horse pen, Shaun was screaming, “SNAKE!” The boys have had it drilled into their heads to run if they see a snake. I went over there thinking it was a bull snake like we’d encountered a couple of weeks before. Nope, this time it was a baby rattlesnake. I instructed them (after taking a photo) to go get their dad. He happened to be outside and heard the commotion. He promptly told me to kill it. “With what?” I asked. Eventually the menace was removed from the round pen and life resumed. Although grandma isn’t quite so sure she wants to return to our house.

I’m sure I’ll have many more stories like the couple I shared in this post, and since I didn’t start the boys baby books, my blog will have to suffice. What have your kids done that left you scratching your heads? Share if you’d like!

Innocently enough

Last night while changing the youngest boy’s diaper, my oldest came in and asked, “Mom, why don’t you go to rodeos any more.” I’m sure the expression on my face told it all, but I said to him, “I don’t have a horse to ride.” He cocked his head and looked at me in disbelief. Then went on to tell me matter of factly, “You have a horse out in the pen.” He didn’t look like he believed me when I told him she was too old.

The rest of the evening I thought about what he’d said. After I had him my riding and barrel racing slowed way down. I went to a few races and rodeos for a couple of years, but injuries to my mare kept us on the sidelines more than I cared to admit. My horse was aging and I feared the day where I’d have to retire her. Fast forward nearly 5 years later and my horse is basically retired (and seemingly enjoying it) and I’ve gotten over (depending on what day it is) not getting to ride as much or go to a barrel race and enjoying my boys while they are still little.

After our conversation I told my oldest boy, some day I will have another horse and will go to some more barrel races. And no, it’s not something I am telling myself to keep me sane. When they reach an age where I won’t have to worry as much about sending them with their dad to the farm (which they kind of do already now) I will have a horse of my own again. When I gather enough pennies to buy a horse of my own again, I will. It’s just going to take time. And I have to be patient and have a plan.

Screen Shot 2016-03-09 at 1.27.16 PM

Thank you

We attended my husband’s grandfather’s funeral on Monday, and it was a first for our young sons. The oldest had entirely too many questions and the youngest was more concerned about exploring and seeing what else I had in the snack bag. Since my husband was a pall bearer, the boys and I drove around the small town where the funeral was held to find a park. Although it was 28 degrees they were still excited for the thought of running around and I was hoping they’d burn off some excess energy before having to sit (hopefully) quiet during the service. Mom wasn’t thinking however and should have brought along extra pants. Yes, my boys were the ones with dirty knees at the church. But no one seemed to mind except me.

We’d managed to make it through the service and as the family was filing out behind the pall bearers, I stood up to gather our things, and an older gentleman behind me said, “Mom, you did really good today.” I smiled and said, “Oh, I don’t think so.” He replied, “No, you really did.” I smiled, laughed and said, “Thank you.” We by far had the two rowdiest kids in the church and I often describe them as not being “church broke” since we don’t get to church services very often. The oldest even let out a big burp during Christmas Eve services! We should probably work on that.

I was a little humbled and always have a tough time taking a compliment. Just ask my husband. When I was running barrels, and had a good run, a lot of the gals would say to me, “Nice run!” or “She’s so deceiving and fast!” It took me a long time to finally say thank you instead of smiling, nodding and saying nothing. It seems as though I still have a lot of self-doubt when it comes to my parenting skills just as I did with my horse training skills. The gray haired gentleman really made an impression on me and I am really glad to have had his compliment when I probably needed it the most. So Thank You, kind sir!

IMG_4638