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.

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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.

Promise and peace

How does the saying go? “You can pick your friends but you can’t pick your family.” Something like that I think. This past weekend, I tried like heck not to remember a certain date, but my Facebook wouldn’t let me forget. Neither would my Timehop app. Five years later it’s still hard not to remember the events of the last day my father-in-law Steve was still alive.

Before bed Sunday night, I was scrolling through Instagram like I do to let my brain disengage, when I happened across the words, “May every sunrise hold more promise, and every sunset hold more peace.” I thought, as much as I don’t want to write one more blog post about missing Steve and remembering the anniversary, I need to. I need to remember otherwise I just might forget.

The morning of Jan. 20, 2012, I captured several sunrise images out the patio door on the east side of my house. It was a Friday morning and I’m pretty sure I was the only one up. The sky radiated red. Now that I think about it, I should have taken that pretty sunrise as a warning – “Red sun at morning, sailors take warning.” It should have been my warning. Later that weekend our lives were forever changed.

Before my husband and I were married, I would have considered his family my friends. We weren’t officially married, but we might as well have been since we lived together for 7 years before deciding to make it official. I chose my friends to become my family when we decided to get married. As much as I hate to admit it, I got along with Steve a lot better than I did my own dad. We were a lot alike I think and although my dad and I share many similarities, we’re very different. Steve was often near by where we lived I could count on him being at the farm or work if I had trouble with something on the ranch or my way home.

The quote I found last night, “May every sunrise hold more promise, and every sunset hold more peace” makes me think that even with the red warning of the sunrise, by late that night even though we were heart broke at our loss, we had peace knowing he’d been found and didn’t suffer. I know in my heart he’s in heaven, but my head selfishly wishes he was still here. Here for my boys to get to spend time with their Grandpa Scott. Here for Chance to meet. Here for me to call when I need something or for me to tell him about the rattlesnake I killed or the tidbit of ag information I’d learned through work. Here for us.

 

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Steve Scott feeding Shaun Scott, Aug. 6, 2011.

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.)

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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.

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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!

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My dear boys..

Saturday was one of those days. It started out relatively good with the boys and I, but it eventually progressed into a loud, messy mess. My youngest is nearly 20 months old and doesn’t go to daycare. It’s come time for him to get out more and be around other kids. So we’ve been going to a local Learn N’ Play group every other Saturday.

Play group went well until it was nearly over. For an hour, the kids sing, paint, explore and play. Of course, there are snacks as well. My youngest has a tendency to stuff food in his mouth like a ravenous beast who doesn’t know when his next meal may come. All the while he is running around and being, well almost two. When it came time to sing the goodbye song, Chance decided he needed to roll around on the carpet while everyone was singing around him. And of course he had stuffed a whole cracker in his mouth. Then came the coughing and eventual choking and mom having to scrape wet cracker out of his mouth. Fun stuff. He was ok with some time on my lap and a little water. Apparently the oldest didn’t like the attention little brother was getting and decided he needed to get my attention too – in a bad way, of course.

Shaun knows exactly how to push my buttons. Saturday was no different than any other day. He wasn’t listening. He was arguing and defiant to a degree. It subsided until late in the afternoon when he was seriously lacking a nap. I’d had one too many, “But, Mom, why’s” than I could stand. I yelled. I spanked and I sent him to his room. Then I felt guilty. Always with the guilt.

I really never pictured myself being a mother. Before I had children, I had my horse and dogs. Furry “kids” sufficed. They were cared for better than I cared for myself and I had no qualms about it. I loved them and they loved me. I was 30 when I got married and 32 when I had my oldest. Some may call it selfish the way things have worked out, but I can tell you this, there are reasons I waited. I lacked patience. I lacked calm. I lacked knowledge. I still feel like I lose my cool way to easily and don’t know what the hell I am doing. But I do know I love those boys and they keep me on my toes.

Saturday afternoon while they were both sleeping I had to get out of the house. I thought about saddling my old horse, but her feet were in unacceptable condition. So instead, I dug out the rope and roped the dummy. I hadn’t picked up a rope in years. It was therapeutic. Swinging (at times) the rope as hard as I could and catching the plastic calf head. I may or may not have smacked the rope down on the bale out of frustration from the day’s events. I was fed up and not happy with how this parenting gig was turning out. I wanted to be able to ride my horse whenever I wanted. I wanted to drive my pickup and go to a barrel race and not worry if I would be back late.

I have been unhappy with this phase in my life, and probably not nearly vocal enough about it. I haven’t been to a barrel race in two years. I haven’t rode since early spring. It feels like a part of me is gone. I know barrel racing and riding are always possibilities, but it feels like I’m never going to have that special horse or have the “time” to ride and actually GO. I want my boys to ride and eventually rodeo if they want to, but its hard for me to do that all by myself. It’s hard to saddle a horse when one kid is jumping around like a goon and the other one is screaming trying to claw his way up into the saddle before his brother gets there.

I’m jealous of those mothers who several weeks after they had their latest kid are back in the saddle.  They are more dedicated than I am, but in the end our situations are different. They don’t have old horses or a husband who works (what feels like) a million miles away. They are younger, have the desire to go and drag the kids along. I have hell dragging mine to the grocery store, much less a barrel race with a couple of horses. I’m sure there’s a solution, but I haven’t found mine yet. That or just come give me a swift kick in the pants.

Competing at the Kansas Professional Rodeo Association event in Syracuse, Kansas, June 2009. (Photo by Lone S Photo.)

Competing at the Kansas Professional Rodeo Association event in Syracuse, Kansas, June 2009. (Photo by Lone S Photo.)

Be brave little one

In my last post I talked about my oldest son going to preschool. Well, yesterday was the day. Leading up to the day I tried to prepare Shaun the best I could. Giving him examples of what he’d be doing, recognizing his name or stories of what it was like for me or his dad going to school the first time.

Monday morning came. Dad stayed home to go with us to see Shaun’s classroom and the other kids. Shaun, who usually is up before the sun, had to be woken up. He insisted upon jeans, boots and a button-down shirt. I compromised with the boots and gave him a pair of other shoes to wear.

Once at the school, Shaun held both of our hands and I was trying my best to be brave like I’d told Shaun to be, but all Momma wanted to do was cry. He practically drug us into the classroom to see all the toys and stuff he’d seen at the open house. Then it was time for Mom and Dad to go to work. I began to get choked up and could barely talk. Shaun started to cry and I did my best to console him. Then it was Dad’s turn. We told him to go find a spot and sit down to wait on the teacher. I thought it would be a good time to sneak out.

I spent the rest of the morning at work worrying about him and how he was doing. When it was time for the bus to deliver him to the babysitter, I texted her and asked how he was. He was crying. Great.

But when I picked him up from the sitter, he was pretty happy. I quizzed him on the way home about his day. He’d apparently made a “best friend” but couldn’t remember his name, just that he had on an orange shirt. Come to find out he was mad at us because we’d left him and he didn’t get to say goodbye (again.) His dad took him fishing and they spent quite a bit of time together before bedtime.

This morning was much easier on both of us. His “best friend” was crying when Shaun went to sit on the rug. I told him to go cheer him up and I’d see him tonight at the babysitters. Hopefully they both survived the day. We can only go up from here!

Shaun on his first day of preschool, Aug. 24, 2015.

Shaun on his first day of preschool, Aug. 24, 2015.

Hard to believe

My oldest boy starts preschool in about two weeks. Sure, I know he’s four and it’s just preschool, but it’s a big step. Both for mom, dad and son. I have a feeling there will be more big steps for us in the future.

This morning I questioned his babysitter why another little boy hadn’t been at her house. (There’s four boys his age, all born within a few months of one another.) Shaun had been asking about him, I told her. Apparently he was getting ready for preschool as well and moving to a different town and wouldn’t be coming any more. As I walked to the car I was feeling crushed for my son. Made me sad he was going to experience “losing” a friend for the first time.

My sister tried to cheer me up by saying he will meet lots of new friends at preschool, but I can’t help but feel sad. I remember the hurt of my first “real” friend (outside of my sisters or cousins) that moved away when I was in grade school. Much like him I didn’t know and found out later where she had gone, and that I’d probably never see her again.

I hope Shaun can find a few good friends while he’s young going through school. I think it makes learning more fun when you have friends around.

Shaun waiting on the Longhorn cattle drive during Dodge City Days, Aug. 1.

Shaun waiting on the Longhorn cattle drive during Dodge City Days, Aug. 1.

Harvest

The very word harvest conjures up many childhood memories. As far back as my memory recollects, wheat harvest was a time like no other. Sure, there was stress, arguments, breakdowns and a rush to get the grain to the elevator, but there was also pride, hope and dreams fulfilled.

My dad quit farming shortly after I graduated from college in 2002. I really can’t remember my “last” harvest on the acres he worked, but I do have memories spanning most of my childhood. From my flip-flop that got lost in the bed of the truck and was later retrieved at the elevator, to the grape pop in glass bottles and the fights that ensued over the window seat in the truck, harvest time was special. Dad worked his butt off from the beginning of the work day until there wasn’t a speck of sunlight in the sky. He was dirty, tired and frazzled, but once the crop was in the bin he was happy.

Mom always said, “after harvest” we could get new shoes or get something special that we’d been wanting. They also got to pay bills, allowing them to farm another year. Most times, harvest was during the middle of June or sometimes later and since the Fourth of July was always so close, Dad would splurge (totally break the bank) on fireworks. He would come home with gigantic boxes – one for each of us 3 girls – and we would light stuff on fire well into the night. He’d also buy rodeo tickets to the local prorodeo. Most times for every night, getting the same row and seats if he could. Or we got a new belt, pair of boots or some jeans.

Since my husband has taken over his family’s 100-year-old farm in Clark County, the wheat crop has been less than stellar. His first crop was a failure because of drought conditions, as were the following crops. This year however, he managed to get the wheat in the ground when he needed to and received some necessary rains at the right times. It was nice to see the bin on the combine get full fast and not take quite a few acres to fill. I could see the pride in his eyes when he was crunching numbers in the truck and telling me what it made. It sure made my heart happy to see him relieved and proud all at once.

It was also the first time both boys had gotten the opportunity to ride in the combine while wheat was being cut. Shaun’s no stranger to the tractor and anytime he gets a chance to ride in the big machinery he will have to be peeled out of it, kicking and screaming. Chance was just taking it all in. Seeing them enjoy it made me pretty darn proud.

As always, I had the camera with me and found the right shot to take. Enjoy! Happy harvest!

A broken down combine gets checked out while another dumps, June 24 in Clark County, Kansas.

A broken down combine gets checked out while another dumps, June 24 in Clark County, Kansas.