Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Got Groceries?

Amazing how an awesome Sunday morning can be completely ruined by a trip into town. With the crew slated to arrive on Monday evening, Sunday seemed to be the only day available to stock up for the coming week. Before leaving, I watched, enviously I might add, as Gary, Clint and the kids rode off into the sunrise. They were gathering the cattle in West Bull in order to load them onto the truck arriving at 8:30, bound for the sale barn. I dropped them off, headed back to headquarters to gather my list and reluctantly pointed the truck west. After marking everything off my list at the grocery store, spending $309.76, and approaching the checkout with baskets (yes, that's more than one) that looked like this, I was done:

Next stop ~ Sam's. Now I really hate Walmart, but I like Sam's. Go figure. Yes, I took a picture of my cart at Sam's.

I know ~ kind of an odd thing to take a picture of, but I am a scrapbooker and we scrapbookers take pictures of odder things than grocery carts. Another $256.87 vanishes from our bank account. Ouch. Oh, I did buy a cookbook and I splurged on some flat bread hot sandwiches in order to cut corners on our supper. Not a good idea. They weren't very good. No wonder I cook from scratch so much. I've rarely found anything prepared that we care for. Think we're spoiled. On the rare occasion that we eat out, Gary always says it's better at home. Thanks for the compliment Honey. :D I do wish that we could find a few things though; the cook needs a break every now and then.

So today we are tackling our first day of works ~ round 2. The crew just came in and after filling their plates to overflowing and settling in, utter quiet reigns over my dining room. Not a word passes between them. The only sound that radiates through the air is the clatter of silverware against the tin plates, the rattle of ice cubes against the cold glasses and, and the occasional jingle of spurs as they shuffle their feet. Once dessert is served, the stories will begin to fill the air interspaced with groans from having devoured that second piece of pie. There is something very comforting about the laughter of satisfied cowboys as they gather at our table. By the end of the meal, they are content, yet miserable. I suppose that's the sign of a good cook. I don't think I'm that great of a cook, but everyojne seems to enjoy meals around here. Of course, it doesn't hurt that part of the crew consists of single guys. According to Travis, they often dine on Saltines and Tabasco and they're really living it up if they have some cheese. So when you look at it from that perspective, a decent meal becomes a feast. They are incredibly kind and complimantary in their comments, but then again, most cowboys are unfailingly polite. Last night they were chuckling about all the weight they had gained when they were here a few weeks ago. Justin blamed the fact that he popped the button off of his Wranglers on me and my cooking.

I have to admit, it feels good to know that people speak well of working with us. People respect Gary, they are paid well, and they are fed well when they work with us. This place may not be ours on paper, but we couldn't work harder if it was. I think that DK repects that as well.

I never did finish this post yesterday. We had to head into town for Tyler's college class and piano after dinner. I brought home Papa Murphy's pizza for supper ~ that gave me a break and made everyone else happy as well!

So I am now headed back into the kitchen. The breakfast dishes are done, but I've got to pull things together for dinner. Today I'm just grilling burgers. I haven't made burgers for the crew before, but I'm trying not to repeat meals and this just sounded good. I made the dessert (Ice Cream Sandwich Dessert ~ had to repeat this though! Dave wasn't here when I made it last time and he made it clear that he was disappointed that he had missed it :D) and the Coleslaw so all that is left is the burgers and fries. Easy meal today! They'll be hauling the calves over here to process and wean so I should be able to sneak out and spend a little bit of time taking pictures this morning! Hopefully I'll have something more exciting to share than carts filled with groceries tomorrow! Hey, at least no one goes hungry around here!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

I'm Done Cooking For the Crew...So Why Am I Still in the Kitchen?!

That's a good question! Sigh... It may have something to so with the fact that I live 30 miles from town. I have a husband. And 2 teenagers. And a father-in-law. They are all in this house and they are always hungry. And yeah, I like to eat too. I even like to cook although you would never know it from all the whining I seem to do about it on here! It just seems like I am ALWAYS in the kitchen!

Today was the first day this week that I fixed a good hot breakfast for Gary and his Dad. They have been dining on cereal. It was guilt that made me trudge into the kitchen this morning and start some bacon. They didn't make me feel guilty. I'm good at doing that all by myself.

The works went well last week and this week we have a bit of a break before they crew arrives for another week. They will be back on Monday night. My stove is presently cooking up 10# of chicken and 4# of ground beef in an attempt to prepare for next week. Some of that ground beef will end up in the Enchilada Casserole I'm making for Cowboy Church tomorrow. There is also a 4-H meeting tomorrow evening so we'll head in to take that in as well.

We're going in to town after dinner for guitar, Tyler's college class, some antihistimine for our herd of horses that are standing in the pens with goopy eyes and runny noses (some of the crew brought sick horses last week), and a cinch. I've also got to run around and try to find a couple of thermometers for science experiments. We need the old Mercury bulb thermometers that seem to be a thing of the past.

Sigh...for someone who really does not like going into town, I sure seem to be there a lot!

This has been a good week though. I have had time to resume my 3-mile walks in the morning and although it is really hard for me to drag out of bed before dawn, I feel much better once my feet hit that dirt road. It's ME time. I enjoy experiencing the dawning of a new day. I have time to think and visit with the Lord. I sometimes listen to music or books on tape. I come back feeling refreshed albeit, in need of a shower.

We are playing catch-up in school this week. Seems as if we are always doing that. One of these days I hope I can quit fretting about how far behind we are. We're probably not behind at all. I'm working on that.

I did get to go out and enjoy taking pictures one evening. Caitlin has rediscovered her passion for riding. Don't think she ever really lost it, just think she was always riding for work and didn't have the opportunity to just ride for fun. It's been a while since she had a horse that I would let her do that on too. Thank the Lord for Wyatt. He's a sweeheart and the two of them make a good team. The light was so pretty that evening and I loved getting behind the lens again.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Who Wants to Be Normal?

Okay, today I am writing about something my daughter addressed in her blog. She wrote a really cool piece about being normal (whatever that is!). Poor kid. She didn't have a chance at normality. She was born her mother's daughter and bless her little heart, I have been accused of a lot of things, but being normal isn't one of them. I won't rehash her wonderful words, after all, this kid has a fantastic gift for writing! However, I will mention that we have always encouraged the kids to be themselves. In this day and age, I am so very thankful for a teenage daughter who is great at being herself and actually likes who she is! This kid is so wise! Wish I had that kind of confidence at her age!

As a child, I never was one to go with the flow. I was the proverbial "fish out of water"~ the kid who "marched to the beat of their own drummer". I never did fall into a catagory. Looking back, I had lots of friends from all the different class cliques. I wore Wranglers, western shirts and boots every day so it would stand to reason that I had friends who were in FFA. I was the kid who was friends (yes, just friends) with the guys. The girls were awful! They were cruel and mean-spirited. My Senior year I was the FFA sweetheart and they didn't like it one bit. They erased me from all the FFA pages in the yearbook. Looking back, I see that they were just immature, but it sure did hurt me then. I hope that they have grown up ~ some people never do.

I had friends who were "jocks" and who were part of the "popular" kids too, although I was never part of any group. I was simply "me", no matter who I happened to be talking to. At the time, everyone seemed to be so confident. Looking back, I see that they were actually lacking confidence.

So what is normal? Normal is frightening. Look at today's society ~ it's a scary place. People are all running around trying to be a part of something ~ they want to dress alike, to act alike, to be accepted. God made every one of us different and we all go scurrying around in pursuit of more. Isn't what he made us enough? The only thing I want to scurry around in pursuit of is Him!

Don't know if things have changed since then I was in High School. I hope that they have, but I'm quite certain that they haven't. We homeschool, but the kids attended school for their first few year. I contemplated homeschooling from the get go, but it seemed awfully scary. It took me a while to realize that it was more scary to leave the kids in school!

Two teachers took me aside one afternoon and told me they needed to visit with me about my daughter. She was in kindergaten at the time. I was truly perplexed. What could this sweet, cooperative child have done? Well it seems that she walked in between two 3rd graders who were having an argument on the playground. She stood there and shook her fingers at them saying, "Now, that's no way to treat a friend." "My, Mommy says that you shouldn't talk to friends that way." "My Mommy says that you should be kind." "My Mommy...." LOL! I can just picture her! Even at 5 years of age, she had this incredible sense of self and justice. You go girl!

Marching to the beat of your own drummer is VERY cool!

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

17 years ago...

17 years ago... we were about to embark on the greatest adventure of our life.
17 years ago... We were in the hospital awaiting the arrival of our 1st child.
17 years ago...We became parents.

This morning I gazed up at my 6'3" son and wondered where the last 17 years went. I don't know how Kenny Chesney can sing a song called "Don't Blink". He doesn't even have children, but I can assure you that the words are true.

Don't blink ~ Just like that you're six years old and you take a nap
and you wake up and you're twenty-five
and your high school sweetheart becomes your wife
Don't blink ~ You just might miss your babies growing like mine did

17 years and I have treasured every day. I worked at the ASCS (Agricultural Stabilization & Conservation Service ~ try saying that 3 times fast!) until the day you arrived. We were blessed that I have been able to stay home and raise you. I wouldn't change a thing.

When I first held you in my arms, I felt God's arms surround me in a way that took my breath away. I was holding a miracle! I was so scared, yet it felt so right.

When you purchase anything these days they send you home with a user's manual that rivals the Annual Cabela's Catalog (we won't even go into why we receive this preferred customer hardback 4" catalog each year). Yet they send you home with a tiny (well, you weren't very tiny: 9 lbs!) baby ~ no manual. Just a brand new human being that they expect you to raise on a wing and a prayer. Well through the years I have become very good at winging it and prayer had blessed us with each and every step.

It's been an amazing journey and I am excited to see what the Lord has in store for you. For now, I am still enjoying every day. The twos were not terrible and neither are the teenage years. You are an amazing kid. Yes, you antagonize your sister, but according to everyone who had siblings, that's to be expected. I wouldn't know; as I was an only child as you have both reminded me of that on numerous ocassions. You often offer to help elderly shoppers with their bags. You hold doors open for people. You are respectful to adults. You are a hard worker. You are are kind and smart and funny and I am so very proud of you. Happy Birthday son!

17 years ago I spent every minute I could holding and rocking you. Everyone told me, "Put that baby down. You'll spoil him." Not a chance! I didn't want to miss a thing. I am so very thankful that I was there to watch you fall asleep, to see you wake up, to read to you, to play with you, to giggle and laugh and cry, to capture the first time you rolled over, crawled, walked and talked.

And yes, it seems like only yesterday!

Monday, October 1, 2007


Transition: The process or an instance of changing from one form, state, activity, or place to another.

I like to think that I am flexible. That I handle change well and that I am good at transition.
Apparently that is not the case ~ at least not today.

I can, and have, on numerous occasions, willingly, dropped the day's plans and run off to help Gary with whatever ranch job was deemed urgent at the moment. Fix a windmill ~ turn off the stove. Repair a watergap ~ close the history book. Run a heifer to the vet ~ put the science experiment in the refrigerator. I love it all. I love being his partner and being there to help in whatever capacity I am able.

On the other hand, I did not weather the transition well when we moved from our beloved mountains in West Texas to our present flatlands.

I did not handle today well either and my children have not fallen far from the proverbial tree.

Today was a huge transition. I saw it coming. I knew it was on the horizen. How did I know? Well suffice it to say, history repeats itself.

We just finished 6 days of fall works. 6 days that we eagerly look forward to. 6 days that leave us utterly exhausted. So yesterday I made sure that everyone rested and honored the Sabboth as it was intended. We'll ignore the fact that I still had one dayworker here until midmorning or that I scrubbed the stove, washed the floors, scoured the kitchen, cleaned up the bunkhouse and washed the towels from over there. I still rested ~ I even took a nap! I had a wonderful week of lesson plans all laid out for the following day and I wanted my students to be well-rested.

These same students have no problem removing themselves from their warm nests at 4:30 a.m. when we work cattle, but they seem to have a problem with our current transition. For some reason, it is almost impossible for them to drag themselves out from under the covers at 6:30 or 7:00 on a school day. When I posed this question to my daughter, she answered, "But M...O...M! Working cattle is fun!" Aha! I see! So I get to resume my un-fun position as teacher and attempt to squeeze some education into my children.

Here is where I can very easily wander off onto another tangent and say that they receive huge amounts of education in their daily lives on the ranch. I will not argue with that. I believe it with all my heart, but I also believe that they need a balanced education and some of that must come from good books and math lessons. They both wish to attend college so a well-rounded education is a must. The fact that they will have learned a good work ethic will serve them well, but so will the ability to communicate through a well-structured paragraph. I refuse to make them diagram sentence after sentence, but I do want them to be able to write coherently and speak intelligentlly.

I agree that is difficult to transition from a funfilled day horseback, carousing with the crew to the drudgery of completing the Apologia study guide or wading through the next chapter on the Korean War. However, everything in life cannot be fun all the time. There are days where we've simply got to put our nose to the grindstone and make the best of it. Grumbling about what must be done will not make it easier. Falling to the floor in dismay will not make it go away. Making a very heartfelt diatribe on the woes of the day will not get it done~although I might be persuaded to count that as public speaking :)

Life is full of transitions. Some we will be quite adept at steering through and some will cause us to stumble. I want to give my children the tools to handle them all.

That tool can be summed up in one word: God. Look to Him in all things. He will guide your way. When life's transitions start barreling your way, cling to Him. He will not make them all disappear, but the path will be less rocky with him by your side. There are days that I need to remind myself of this too, afterall, I'm a work in progress.

I love homeschooling. But not today.
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