Sunday, May 18

Dear Mom and Dad..

Dear Mom and Dad,

Yesterday you finished the race.  You crossed the finish line, FINALLY watching all of your children graduate from high school.  Wow. You should take it east now, sit back and relax because there are NO more sports games to attend.  Can I get an 'Amen'?
It only took...well, let's just say a reeeaallly long time.  Let's see, Malinda graduated from high school in 1999, which means she started know what it doesn't matter :).  I'm not here to make you feel old, or tired.  I'm here to give you a little piece of mind.  That's right.  In case you have ever wondered if we are truly "ready" for life outside the comforting walls of our adolescence, I'm here to tell you "we are", and I can prove it.

 (Malinda's medical school graduation)

 (Mack's high school graduation)

Mom and Dad, you raised us right.  We are very fortunate in that we grew up on a farm, but also benefited from receiving a fine education.  Sure, we may have been the only kids in middle school to go home and mulch/weedeat/mow/pull weeds/rake leaves/feed calves but that helped shape us.  We know the value of hard work, and not being the last one out the door.  I am an expert at quickly assessing ANY situation, and coming out in roses while my counterpart tries to accomplish a more tedious task.  Cuz I'm good like that, see?  That's just ONE of the many life lessons we have made it to the other side with, there are many more.
One, we are experts at herding cattle on foot.  This may seem like a "so what" kind of skill to the average person, but go to the grocery store on senior citizen day and see how you fare.  With my perfectly honed skills of getting close but not TOO close, and staying out of their blind spots, I can get in and out in record time.  NO! You're motorized shopping cart will not come between me and my butter.  Occasionally having my paddle handy would be advantageous, but I just focus on their cart and stay loose, remembering that sudden movements may spook them. 

Another life skill that we have taken on the road I touched on earlier.  The 'don't be the last one out the door' lesson.  It's really more for survival.  In a family of 5 kids you don't want to be the last one to anything, be it work or supper.  You know what happens when you're the last one?  You end up with clay mud stains on your ballet tights because you had to go get the horse in the dark, who was on the opposite side of the world.  It was muddy, you were shaking you're trusty feed bucket, yelling "Panchooooo!" at the top of your lungs WHILE trying to navigate mud puddles.  In the dark.  With one hand on a barbed wire fence.  With holes in your hand-me-down boots, and plastic bags on your feet that your Mom swore would "work".  Well they didn't and the disappointed look you got from Miss Amy at dance class was just icing on the cake.  Now not only did you not only have the most "quality" thighs in dance class, but they now resembled giraffe spots.  This is merely an example know, not "real".  Lesson here?  If you're slow everywhere else that's fine, but you must be lightning quick in the common sense department.

Mom and Dad, the last lesson I'm going to talk about is one that I am most appreciative of.  You might not have said it but it was always there, understood like your love for us.  That lesson is that, you can always go home.  No matter what.  Home never changed.  The place you brought us as newborns, is the same place we left when we thought we knew it all.  Home was where we never wanted to be.  It was boring.  It meant work, and hard lessons.  It wasn't always fun.  But it's where we all came from.  It's the tie that binds us all.  When were home, standing in the kitchen with the SAME dishwasher that has ALWAYS been there, we're family.  We're your 5 children, with pieces of you in all of us.  Suddenly the place we tried so hard to leave, is the place we all gravitate toward.

We were created by God for a purpose, and you have worked so hard to help us realize what that is.  Your lessons, some harder than others, we will carry forever. There is really no way to thank you enough for raising us, and loving us like you do.  I think I can speak for the 5 of us and say, without doubt, that we only want to make you proud...and maybe we can get you a new dishwasher one day.  No promises!


Monday, April 28

40 Years Ago

40 years ago today this man was born...

Just seeing him in a picture gives me goosebumps :).  For real, I've got it bad.
That picture was from his birthday in 2010 :).

When friends who haven't me him ask me about him, my favorite thing to say is, "he's the best man I know".  There is not a more "complete" way of describing him.

He had an interview a while back, and in preparation for it we came up with 3 words to describe him...really because I figured they would ask, which they DID (yay me!).
Those 3 words were; consistent, dedicated and experienced.
Honestly, if you want to know ANYthing about him professionally, those 3 words are all you need.  If anyone has an issue they need an opinion on, he is THE best decision-maker I have ever met.  EXCEPT when it comes to food...seriously people, stop taking him to eat bbq!

These 3 words also apply to his role as a dad.  Watching Caden grow up, and seeing him go from child to young man, is truly an experience.  He has such a innate sense of "right" and "wrong" that there is simply no question whose child he is.  Chuck doesn't miss anything.  He might not be the one who is always doing the "fun" stuff, but he is always there.  Whether it's pushing Caden to get his reading done for the week, or telling Caden how proud he is of his attitude, Chuck is consistently there for him. 

Plus they tend to favor each other a bit :).  Seriously, those eyes will have all the little girls swooning...his daddy's are what got me ;).

It's funny, as a husband I wouldn't use those same 3 words.  I think, loyal, loving and attentive are probably the 3 I would pick.
I don't believe that "perfect" marriages exist, I think marriage is hard work and what is perfect for one isn't perfect for another.  As a wife, I know I don't do everything right, but I try real hard :).  We make each other better, I think that is the key.  He's my man, and talking to him is absolutely what I look forward to every morning.  I wouldn't trade what we have for all of the money in the world.

So Chuck, or Charles as I tend to call you, thank you for your love.  Thank you for being my rock, and the highlight of every day.  I can't wait to celebrate so many more of your birthdays, but let's just take it real slow, ok?


Thursday, March 13

It Takes Two

To make a thing go riiiight!
Am I right?
I am.

Today marks our two year wedding anniversary!
Two years might not sound like much, but to me it's everything.  Trust me, I don't think I know anywhere near as much as I will need to for the long haul...but I'm learning every day.
I mean, the Mr. America thing was a total surprise.  I never knew I had married a celeb.  Now that I look at it, the blacked out windows make total sense.

I do know one thing for sure, communication is the MOST important ingredient when making a happy, healthy marriage.
Don't even care what you say....

Nothing, not one thing, can change my mind about this.

Yes, I love this man, with all of my heart and soul I love this man.
He's my happy beginning and end of each day.
He is my rock, the place I come when I'm sad, discouraged, or lost.
He finds me.
I absolutely adore him for all that he is.
I'm inspired by all that he pushes me to be.
Talking to him...occasionally at him...completes my day.

If I wasn't able to talk to him, tell him everything, this wouldn't work.
We could have all of the love in the world, the attraction, and the common interests, but if we didn't share our thoughts...we wouldn't connect.

Now, maybe you're relationship is different. No two couples are alike. But for us, we can lose touch quickly if we don't tell each other what is on our mind.  Maybe I can't help, but I can listen.  At least then I know what's bothering him....and vice versa.

It's us, and it works :).

But there's not just 2 of us, there are 3, and we are celebrating our second 'Fammiversary'.
Yes, I did that;).

Caden is just as much a part of the last 2 years as we are, and I thought it would be neat to take a look back and compare pictures! (Come on, it will be...)
Here are our engagement pictures!
Caden was so small!
...and so were my weenie-arms, yeesh...
I was curling 5's then....nickels that is......

So two years following, we were doing this on March 13th, 2012
Charles couldn't wait for his salt n' peppa to come in....
Just kidding, that's my dad ;).

We made it official..
He wore the cow tie and all.

Wuv, sweet wuv!

Then, the day after we shot these...
Look how young...
(I don't think Tye-dye was ever "in".)

Here I am, taller than him...

2 years later, here he is...
Handsome as ever.

Here we are, he's taller than me now..
But I still out-weigh him...heh:)

There they were...
a hero and his min-me.

Here they are, thick as thieves.
And the two most special people I know.

My heart can't hold much more, I'm afraid.

There we were.

Here we are:)

Two fammiversaries down, the rest of our lives to go.

Maybe it doesn't take two...maybe it's 3.
Yes, I think that's it.


Tuesday, March 4

That's Makes Me Mrs. America, By Default

A few weeks ago, I began noticing a trend.  It was a Saturday, and Chuck and I were working out together.  Yeah, together.
This is something I really never thought would happen, seeing as he says, "you do all the un-fun abs...lunges..", all the time.  And he's right, I'm an un-fun gym rat who sweats a lot and doesn't talk to anyone.  Guilty!  However, to force myself to do the chest and arms(the muscle groups I find to be the MOST boring), he has agreed to let me work in with him on the weekends.  He's a sweetie like that. 
Anyway, a few Saturdays ago, in the midst of bench-pressing, I started noticing him taking a weird resemblance to someone.  He knows everyone, and because of that he is constantly throwing up a hand, or saying, "hey!" with a grin.  It took me a few moments but then I had it!

True Life: I workout with Miss America.
But without the flowers.
Or a crown.
OR annoying sash.
And I can't say that those sleeves would allow for mighty flexing.

SO what I'm sayin' is... I workout with Mr. America, and by default, that makes me Mrs. America.
Go ahead.  Take it all in.

I must say, since this discovery was made, some things have changed around here.....
-I think about ironing his shirts.
(But I'm certain Mrs. America would have someone do this for her, and so do I. Mr. America.)
-I wipe the sweat off of the gym equipment before he uses it.
(Technically it's my sweat, and I generally just rub my entire body across it and the problem seems to take care of itself.)
-I no longer wait impatiently as someone(no doubt an admirer) strikes up a conversation with Mr. America DURING a set.  I mean, I can't blame them.
(I smile off into space, counting the beads of sweat rolling down my back, and imagine that 'this is how Jackie O must have felt'.)
- I accept the fact that people of Mr. America's popularity cannot be expected to offer a good "spot", and in return I don't do much dumbbell work on chest/arm days.
(I still can't remember how many times I rep'd 65lb pullovers that day, but it did mess up a perky ponytail.)

All games aside, I'm proud to be married to such a good man :).


Wednesday, February 5

Wedge Salad

Are you familiar with 'Modern Family'?  You know, the TV series on all the time...or at least the reruns are.  Charles and I frequently(as in every night) watch this show, and are thoroughly entertained. 
It was not until the "Wedge Salad" episode, that I realized I belong in the Dunphy household.
OK, here's the rundown...Phil and Claire Dunphy are married with 3 children.  He is a realtor, she is a stay-at-home mom.  Claire is a control-freak, Phil was a college cheerleader who thinks his memories of riding on the back of his buddies scooter were "some of the best times".  Claire tries to live everyone's lives for them, while Phil is in the front yard practicing tight-rope walking.  Phil's a dreamer, Claire doesn't have much imagination.  Phil is laid back, while Claire
Get the picture?
If not, you should watch it, it's probably on right now.

In the "Wedge Salad" episode, Phil comes home from the grocery store and proudly displays the bag of broccoli to Claire, because he remembered she wanted it!!
But! She! Wanted! Cauliflower!
Then, she loses it.
Here's a clip of that....

I can't watch it...the mess she makes in that kitchen makes me cringe...Cuz I know who'd be cleaning it up.
For the rest of the episode Phil is trying to figure out why Claire is SO mad.  Cauliflower isn't a big deal! Near the end, Phil orders a wedge salad and tells Claire how much, "she really needs to try one!".  This is when she REALLY loses it.  You see, Claire had been telling Phil to try a wedge salad, but he never listened until one of his buddies told him, "how great they were!".
Phil doesn't listen.
This is my life.
I spit new information at my husband not until either he READS it on The Facebook, OR hears it from someone at the office, does he believe it to be true.

Exhibit A:  I drink over a gallon of water every day, and we have ALL heard about how it helps to drink a glass of water before you eat for a number of reasons...right????
Do YOU think I failed to mention this to my husband??? noIdidn't.
He called me one day to tell me he, "just heard that you should drink a glass of water before every meal to help you feel fuller faster".
*Wedge salad*

Exhibit B:  He was lying on the couch one night and hollered at me in the kitchen, "Hey! Did you know that cinnamon actually boosts your metabolism AND is really good for you?!".
People, I buy the BIG container of cinnamon...not because I like apple pie.
*Wedge salad*

TODAY: I was on the phone with my darling sweet thang, and he says, "Hey! Are you ready? I'm about to wedge salad you.....".
THEN he told me all about the health benefits of Metamucil. 
Yesterday I told him all about how I was going to buy some(and did) because of the information I had recently been reading about it.  I tried to convince him that he should take it and he just sighed.

At least he recognizes.
I think I'll keep him ;).

Maybe someone will put something on The Facebook about the health benefits of folding laundry....


P.s. THIS little fella just turned 3!!!
Happy Birthday Jackson!!

Monday, January 27

Ice Queen

Well, wouldn't you know it?  Right after, no...probably during the last post about "how much I love my babies..." I had to put my money where my mouth is.
Funny how things work like that, huh?

This is how it went down:

Last Friday morning I was immersed in my usual work routine, which now consists of feeding obnoxious amounts of hay Seeing as it was a balmy 8 degrees (with sun shining!!), I had to feed awholebunch everywhere.

But first!

This is what we do, we take pictures of fearless felines doing phenomenal stunts!
...I wish phenomenal stated with an 'f'.

Back to the story:
I finished feeding Prospero, one of the finishing herds, and headed to my cow/calf haven at Sheets Hollow.  It is a haven, you would agree if you saw it.  Sent from above.
Now, when the sun is shining, especially in the morning, I pull into SH and they come a'runnin'.  Big old pregnant black cows, little Piney Woods, red, black and white, you name it.  Tails UP and hammered down!
That good old sunshine brings out the best in them :).
Anyway, (I got lost in the moment) I headed to the top of a hill to drop a round bale and let it unroll itself(really the easiest way), and upon dropping it turned to spot a teeny,tiny black dot in the middle of a great big pond.
A frozen pond.
A frozen mudandcowpoopfilled pond.  Sorry.  It's true.
It took me exactly .375 seconds to get to the edge of that pond, get out and say, "well crap".
I did.

(you can't see him because I took this
Poor little fella, I assumed fella because...I mean really...
Anyway, the poor little calf was all splayed out, in the middle of the frozen slab of what used to be their favorite swimming hole.  Mama, #5, was standing at the edge, and I knew it was her by her constant "calling" to him with the unmistakable sound of distress.  Like The Heat did that time we got chased by a Jersey bull, Oh Rachael! I can't do this!!!.
I looked at him, looked at the ice, took into account the sun and his body heat(what little of it there was), and decided if I didn't get him off of it quickly he would fall through and would be lost.
I made a miserable attempt at crafting a rope with a loop in the end out of a ratchet strap I had.  Every time I threw it his way he would scootch a little further, never mind that the rope never made it actually to him.  Way to go me.
So, being the dingy I am, I started stepping onto the ice....step...step...ste...WAIT!  Well this is stupid, I'm going to fall!
Back to the shore.
I decided I would kneel down, yeah yeah! This will work! I crawled a few feet then, like straight out of a movie, a big crack erupted from between my knees and extended through my hands and all the way to him.  Panic!!!! Scootchscoothscootch all the way back.
Plan D.  It's always good when you get to D.
From the frozen shore where I knelt, I decided that I weigh entirely too much.
No, that's not it!
I decided that if I was going to get him I needed to lay down, spreading my abundance of weight out, and slide my body to him that way.
At this point there was NO second thought.  It was all you got this! Just go real fast! You might get wet, but hey it will take a little while for the moisture to make it through all those clothes! Rah rah rah!
And so I did, I slide out there, grabbed his little hoof and made like a bandit for shore.
This is him with mama....

He couldn't bring his legs together very well, due to the fact that he was very new to this world, and had probably been on the ice for some time.  I worried about him. A lot.

This was the little feller today.

He has his tongue out for ya :).

Now, you can't tell me he wasn't worth the effort.  

Anyway, the story of the Ice Queen ended like it should have; the baby was reunited with his loving mother, and as for the Queen, let's just say if this happens again the Ice King won't be the first person she calls ;).

My "normal" routine has changed from 'check the cattle', to 'check every square inch of the field because strange things happen after you blog'.  Amen.

Love and  icicles,

P.s. THIS is what I have to look forward to tomorrow....
The forecast makes me sad.


Tuesday, January 21

Proud Mama

Ok, so there are a few things that really get under my skin.  Reaaallllyyy get in there, ya know?
Wait. I'm sorry. How rude of me.

How are you?
Cold? Gettin there?
Oh, I'm fine...other than the fact that I got YELLED at in the Wal-Mart parking lot yesterday.
Yeah, let's not talk about it.

Back to the matter at hand...things that make me go, "ugh".
1.  Men being men when they're around men but being men around women who can do stuff.
2.  The silent treatment.
3.  Being told, "you'll understand when YOU have kids".
There are more I'm sure, but those are probably my top picks.

We will not be addressing numeros uno or dos today because;
-I'm sure I will address number one later (because it's sooo true) and to be honest,I gave Caden the run-down last Friday when I had a fresh wound and it still stings.There.
Poor Caden.
  Number 2 is not very exciting. Just talk to me and don't be weird. K?

Number three it is!!!

Let me preface this by acknowledging the fact that yes, I'm dirty 30, and no, I have not birthed a child...even though everyone I went to high school with evidently has so I pretty much feel like I have had at least 2.
Thanks for the bm updates, guys.

Anyway, it may sound silly, and actually probably does to 90% of the people who might stumble upon this, but I consider my calves(not the ones on my legs, come on) to be my babies.
No, I don't coddle them, or play with them, but I watch over them and take care of them when they are sick.  They are mine.

Yes, I realize they don't need me to feed them(beef biz now peeps), burp them, or empty their potty, but they need me.

Last week I happened upon a calf who was in the beginning stages of pneumonia.  4 months old, just laying in the field all alone. Was mama around? Nope.  So I got the calf, with a temp of 107, up and treated her.  She's fine now, thank goodness.
She's my baby.  They all are.

This past Sunday I got called-out in Church by Pastor Brad. I didn't breathe for 5 minutes.
Like, during Church.  Like, remember when the teacher was totally not looking at you, then calls YOUR name to answer a question?  And you're all like, "uh, I carried a watermelon".  Likethat.
Thankfully the Good Lord was paying attention at this very moment and I didn't have to say anything. whew!
Anyway, Pastor Brad used our little family as an example in his sermon, and do you know what tiny, fragment of those mere seconds I remember like my birthday???  The words, "you're son".
He called Caden, my stepson, my "son".
And he is.

He is a beautiful, smart, big-hearted boy who encompasses all that any mother would dream of, and he's mine.
No, I did not birth him.
There are zero of my genes in his entire body.
I never saw his first steps, teeth or skinned knee.
BUT, I am here every night when he is.
I make him snacks for school.
I pick him up, talk to him, help him, and I dare say how I would react if anything ever happened to him.
I love him.
He's mine and the fact that he claims any part of me means more than any blessing I could receive.

So, here's the thing and the thing about the stuff I just said.
I understand.

Not because I have been there necessarily, but because I am a caring, compassionate person.

I don't know how you felt going through labor, but I can show you compassion. 
I don't know what you have to juggle to get to where you're going, but I can listen, and I do respect you.

So, maybe the next time you assume someone has to have a child in order to obtain a certain level of understanding, think about how they feel.
I dare say any of my friends know exactly how it feels to be feeding round bales in an open bobcat on the coldest day of the year, but I think they could probably understand that it's a bit chilly.
Ya know?

I so dearly love Caden and could bot be prouder of my son.

Love, respect and compassion,

P.s. We'll get to the "Wal-Mart" ordeal in good time.