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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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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Five years

My blog will be 5 years old on Jan. 11, 2017. Initially, it started as a way to get out the many thoughts I had swirling around in my head. It helped me get through maternity leave when my first son was born in May 2011. Same with the second in February 2014. It helped me get through the death of my father-in-law and other family and friends. More often than not, I write about subjects that annoy me or make me think, and often times others share my same thoughts and ideas.

Last week before the new year, I decided to go back and look at the statistics for my site. In 2016, I had one of the most viewed blog posts ever, I’m a rural voter. It had 6,517 views. I was completely blown away when it got shared and shared and shared again. In the history of my blog, I’d never had that kind of exposure. It also made me think about the subjects I write about on my blog and how they resonate with readers.

In 2016, I’d only written 11 blog posts, but garnered 8,415 views, most because of the rural voter post. Previously, the most views I’d gotten was 2,922 in the first year of blogging. I’d written 78 posts. So, I guess you can say, I’ve learned that less is more.

Here’s the top 6 posts in 2016:

  1. I’m a rural voter
  2. January 21
  3. Out of my comfort zone
  4. Losers live forever
  5. There’s always something new
  6. Thank you

I’d like to thank those who have taken the time to read my posts, and/or comment on them. Its amazing when people can relate to my thoughts and ideas. If you have any questions or ideas for me, just let me know. I look forward to interacting more with readers. Happy New Year!

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Who I am

I’m a mother. A working mother. Someone who puts in 40 hours a week; sometimes more, sometimes less. I spend 8 or 9 hours a day away from my boys and worry the entire time.

I’m a person who despite having a good job, where I’ve been for more than a dozen years, we still live paycheck to pay check. We have lots of wants, some means and a little bit in the bank at times.

I’m a person who wants to see her husband succeed. I want to see him have a cow herd and not having to work a job just so we can have health insurance.

I’m a mom who questions whether or not a sore throat merits a doctor visit. Not every sniffle or sneeze does so, but I second guess my choice. I’m thankful I have health insurance when I do have a sick kid.

I’m a horsewoman, who hasn’t ridden in more than a year. For years and years, my mare was the center of my universe. Ask my husband. He knew he was second place for many, many years. Now, I don’t “have time” to ride. The boys need shuttled around. I have work to deal with and they want to ride. There’s only 3 horses at the house, so when dad needs to work, guess where mom stays?

I would love to stay home and take care of cows, horses and kids, but lack of confidence, lack of experience and a little lack of patience keeps me working in town.

I’m a wanna-be photographer. I’m trying to get a few more clients after taking engagement photos for one friend and family photos for another. I absolutely love taking photos and capturing a beautiful scene. I hope people like my photos more than I do.

Last week I wrote about being a rural voter after the presidential election, and how I disliked being called an uneducated and rural voter. After fielding more than a dozen comments on my blog, I had to get away from the computer and get some fresh air. As I was feeding horses, I thought, “Who am I?” I always thought I was a writer, a photographer, a hard worker and I’m just me. I don’t like being called uneducated—especially since I’m still paying my student loans from my time at Oklahoma State University.

I came back in the house and wrote the above six paragraphs in about 12 seconds. Ok, maybe not that fast, but they came out on paper pretty quickly. The more I thought about it, the more I questioned who I was/am/were/will be. But who does it matter to who I am? Mostly me. I do my job, keep my head down and try not to cause much strife. I’ve changed over the years, and I hope the only one who is bothered by that is me. I’ve just got to be me.

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A lot of firsts

A couple of months ago after returning from maternity leave, I was planning my travel schedule, and found that I would have to cover a cattlemen’s meeting in Colorado Springs during mid-June. Last year the same meeting was in Breckenridge, and I tried to get my husband to come with me. To no avail, he had to work. So this year, I worked a little harder on him (practically begged) to get him to take a “vacation” with me. Although I would have to work most of the time we were there, we still had some time to do a couple of fun things, and take Shaun on his first trip.

Our 3-year-old son had never been on vacation, but I didn’t tell him we were going anywhere until the day before we were going to leave. He’s the type of kid that if you tell him something we are going to do fun, he will obsess over it for days. I saved myself some of the agony and only let him wonder for a day. Once we were packed and in the car, only did we explain where we were going. We again saved the fun part – a cog train ride – until we stopped for lunch in Pueblo. That was our ticket for him to get quiet and take a nap. And it worked.

Another first was the hotel. Shaun was kind of confused why we left our suitcases in the room every time we left. He wanted to take his with us each time we left the room. I think it was because it had wheels on it. But eventually the suitcase turned into a mower and the closet became his trailer. (His dad has hauled the mower from the farm to our house a few times, and the kid is obsessed about pickups, tractors, mowers and trailers.) This kept him occupied for a while during the time I was at meetings I believe.

Shaun and his Dad also swam in the indoor pool. He’d had swimming lessons when he was about a year old, but Mom missed the deadline for his 2-year-old year so he didn’t get lessons last year. When I managed to go swim with them, Shaun was clingy and crying and not having much fun. I blame it on him being so tired. Guess we will have to work on that this summer.

Here’s a couple of photos from our trip.

Shaun's excitement could hardly be contained before the train ride.

Shaun’s excitement could hardly be contained before the train ride.

Shaun and his Dad at the Summit.

Shaun and his Dad at the Summit.

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I used to drink beer

Prior to having kids, whenever I had a trying day at work, I would crack open a beer and enjoy it. Heck, maybe have more than one – sometimes on the porch by myself. In 2009, when I was planning my wedding, there was more than a few Friday nights spent with a friend at a local dive enjoying a pitcher of beer (or several). Even after the wedding was over we’d still go for beers. Her simple text message would read “Beers?” I miss those.

Now that I’m older and a mother of two small children, it’s hard to enjoy beer. Mostly because if my husband is gone and I’m hung over, it will be NO fun to care for a 3-year-old  and a 3.5 month old with a splitting headache and nausea. Nope not doing it. My other reason for limiting beer came just the other day. I was enjoying a beer with my supper when my 3-year-old son said, “Mom are you drinking beer?” Yes son, it’s a beer. “You can’t drink beer. That’s Dad’s.” I looked at his father and just shook my head and replied, “Shaun, I can drink beer if I want!” Sometimes it’s not worth the argument with an insistent 3-year-old.

I used to drink a couple of times a month with friends. We’d go have supper and beers then go somewhere to let our hair down. I’d come home whenever I dang well pleased. Recently, I went with those same friends to a red dirt band here in town, and by 11:30, I was ready to go home. Mostly because it was so incredibly loud in there (am I really that old?), but because I knew my husband had to work the next day, and the boys would be my responsibility. I did however stay for a couple more hours and got to bed at 1:30, and the youngest woke me up at 4 a.m., to remind me I was still his mother.

Now that I don’t have that easy of an outlet to let out my anger and frustrations with life, it shows up in other ways.  Passive-aggressive social media posts get those negative thoughts out and let me commiserate with others in my circles. I trade text messages with my sister and a couple other friends to get the crappy thoughts out otherwise I just might explode. And then there are my blog posts.

But, every now and then I will have that cold Coors Light, Shaun.

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Something about the clouds

I’ve worked at home for the last two days, and with young kids that’s quite the fete. My oldest had been asking to go to Grandma’s and when she called yesterday and wanted to pick him up, I gladly sent him on his way. The youngest slept basically all afternoon in his swing, and I actually got to sit down and write a story for work. Midday, I decided to go take some photos to accompany the story I was working on. Since it was muddy when I woke up Thursday, my first stop outside was the rain gauge. I was shocked to find an inch of rain in the gauge, and then thanked the Lord for the moisture. It was glorious even though I didn’t even get to hear it come down during the night.IMG_7633

My second stop for photos was out in the horse pasture. The mares were out eating all the green sprigs coming up, and since I hoped to get them eating off a round bale I tricked them by putting some grain on the bale. Shhh.. Don’t tell our readers! While I was waiting on them to come up, I gazed at the sky and admired all the beautiful clouds against the blue sky. I turned around and saw the sky and clouds making a pretty photo behind the windmill. It turned out pretty darn nice!

There’s just something about clouds, sunsets and sunrises that make my heart sing. I scroll through my photos, and if it isn’t a horse or kid, it’s of the sky. Not sure why I take so many pics of the heavens, but I don’t see it stopping anytime soon..

 

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Massive storm cloud southeast of my house April 23.

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Blue sky, clouds and windmills. What else do you need for a photo?

It’s amazing

**WARNING:** This is a vent of sorts, and not meant to hurt feelings. I have to get some of this off my chest before my poor brain explodes..

When you work in an office setting, it’s amazing the things that grow to annoy you. On any given day the clicking of mouse buttons or the pounding on a keyboard could send you over the edge. Other days it’s the smell radiating from the microwave in the break room.

People will be people, and many have habits they unknowingly do that annoy the holy living **** out of their work neighbors. I’m positive I do things that annoy my coworkers. I know I do.

I’ve decided there are four kinds of coworkers – the muncher, the clunker, the annoyer and the storyteller.

The Muncher. This person often grazes all day, every day. You can hear crunching, chewing and the occasional slurping coming from their direction. Often times they eat their meals at their desk. I can be included in this category pretty easily. I practically run out the door in the morning, carrying my breakfast. I often eat lunch at my desk simply because I live 15 minutes from work, and driving home makes no sense. I’d eat in my truck, but that just makes everything messy in there. But if I’m sitting there eating, engrossed in a website or magazine, don’t expect me to talk. I want to eat in peace. Please and thank you.

The Clunker. This person is a fashionista. They make an effort to look put together for the work day, and I give them credit for taking the time to look nice and accessorize. However, when you can feel the floor vibrate and hear the heel clunking against the floor before you see this person it’s bound to leave a lasting impression – and it’s not a good one in case you are wondering. Surely there’s a quieter way to walk in heels or noisy shoes for that matter? I’ve never worn heels so I don’t have a clue.

The Annoyer. This person has varying degrees of annoyance. Could be as simple as saying hi to everyone who walks past their desk. Every. Single. Time. It could be the person who posts every stinking thing they run across on Facebook and then has to ask if you saw it. It could be the person who has a cackle for a laugh. Or it could be the one who prints off every single thing and stores it on their desk. It could be the one who throws out the compliments. Every. Single. Time. It could be the one who never answers emails, answers the phone or does their job.

The Storyteller. This person has a story for every subject. They’ve done this, done that, and even brought the t-shirt to work to show it. The brave one who has a nice story to tell, may never get their 10 seconds because the storyteller is monopolizing the time. Now, I tend to be a storyteller every so often. Something funny, awkward, weird or strange may have happened at my house and I don’t have anyone to share it with besides the captive audience around me. Sometimes things are too good not to share. But there’s a time and a place.

Now, I do enjoy my place of employment, don’t get me wrong. It’s the habits that drive me up the wall. I’ve got to find a way to not let the little things consume me and make my attitude plunge. (If you have suggestions or ideas please share!) In the meantime don’t mind me as I sit over here and work with the ear buds in and some good tunes cranked up. Life is too short to be annoyed.

Work

I ran across a tweet on Twitter this morning, that said, “I don’t want a job, I just want money.” Oh how perfect life would be if one didn’t have to work for their money. At least that’s what I am feeling this morning.

Don’t get me wrong, I do love my job, but it would be nice to be able to do every single thing my mind wanders to and wishes for. It would be nice to have a workshop and I could sand, paint, stain and create to my heart’s content. It would be nice to have a fully stocked office with a super fast computer and a bag full of awesome lenses that way I could edit the many magnificent photos I know I can find and take. It would be nice to have a way to make money at creating things and capturing images. I know many people do the things I am wishing for each day and are very successful at them. What is holding me back? Heck, I don’t know. Maybe its fear of failure. Maybe its lack of desire. Maybe it’s lack of time.

My very first job out of college started a week after graduation. In that week, I moved into my apartment, tucked away all of my things, and sent the rest of my stuff back home with my dad. One of my most prized possessions would have to remain there too, my horse. But it wasn’t long before I found a place for her to live and she joined me back in Oklahoma. At my job as a general assignment reporter I covered anything that was thrown at me – education issues, agriculture issues, news stories, and even features. It was a fun time, and one that I won’t forget and one that taught me so much, but I wanted to be directly involved in writing about agriculture.

Nearly 10 years ago I started at my current job. My title at the time was copy editor. My days were filled with editing stories and sending them to the right edition. I occasionally got to write stories and take photos. Then web editor was added to my resume. I did a lot of the same things, but with more of a web-influenced track. Then in 2012 I was promoted to associate editor. With more of a focus on stories, covering events, photos and other duties my job sure has evolved from what it did when I started in 2003. But I do like to write, really enjoy taking photos and traveling.

So, why then does the thought of changing my path creep into my brain? Am I getting a seven-year itch three years too late? Who knows. But what I do know is I need a steady job to pay the bills to survive. We have a house to maintain, horses to feed and Shaun to feed and clothe. Those things aren’t cheap, not to mention the bills that seem to always make their way to our mailbox.

When telling my husband about my thoughts on the subject of work last night, he asked, “what would you do if you didn’t work there?” Honestly, I said, I don’t know. But what I do know is that I will keep on keeping on. I’m not a quitter and will get the job done, no matter how unpleasant or unhappy I am. Then, as I was trolling Twitter again, thinking of how to finish up this post, I ran across this – Life is change. Growth is optional. Choose wisely. -Unknown

A whole month?

Has it really been an entire month since I blogged last? There’s no excuse. Well, there is a couple – I have been busy, it snowed and I’ve traveled.

Here’s some photos of my adventures.

This guy and I spent about 5 days in the house when we got snow not once, but twice from Feb. 21 to 25.

This guy and I spent about 5 days in the house when we got snow not once, but twice from Feb. 21 to 25.

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Wizarding World of Harry Potter was our stop after a BASF media event at Universal Studios.

Wizarding World of Harry Potter was our stop after a BASF media event at Universal Studios.

Kashe decided to take his own adventure from Feb. 3 to 12. Luckily he came home.

Kashe decided to take his own adventure from Feb. 3 to 12. Luckily he came home.