Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Week Two at Home

I write from the middle of my second week with Sankey Creative. Let me tell you how it's going. 

On the second day of this new adventure Cody began asking some pretty pointed questions:
Did you clean the toilet?
Did you sort through the glove pile?
Did you make this from scratch?
Did you vacuum?
It apparently dawned on him that this new arrangement would give me more time in the home to actually take care of it. 
It dawned on me that things must have been in pretty bad shape for him to notice that I scrubbed the toilet. 

I had many grand plans of a daily craft project for Caroline and I, to work on her coordination and seek creativity on a weekday. I've not yet had to get out the finger paints or pipe cleaners. Mostly because on Friday she dumped my make-up case (the spare one that holds all cosmetics with 1/2 ounce left but I refuse to toss, free samples I'll never wear or Clinque "free gifts" that cost me $26.00). I got out of the shower on day three to find our 18-month old looking like an eighth grade gal trying to find herself in the bottom of her big sister's caboodle. Not that I have experience. It took a little bit of patience and a whole lot of Vaseline to get Caroline's face and hands back to a place where we could leave the house. 

On day five I took Caroline to a dermatologist to have a patch on her face checked out. It developed the Monday before Thanksgiving and I treated it with Neosporin. A week later she was diagnosed with hand, foot and mouth. The patch came and went, flared up then disappeared. It wasn't noticeable when we had nowhere to be, but conveniently fired up dramatically when we were around people. Caroline was a champ in the dermatologist office and sat through the entire exam on my lap quite well. 
"Your form says there has been no flaking, but I see a patch here by her ear that seems to be peeling. Is this always here?" asked the nurse. 
I turned Caroline around so I could see the other side of her face. 
"That's weird," I said examining her. "Oh, wait. That' just oatmeal. Dried oatmeal," as I licked my thumb and scrubbed it off. "We had that for breakfast....yesterday."
Sometimes I can't quit talking. 

Week one was a great experiment in time management and goals, week two has been an absolute ball and I fully expect all hell to break loose in week three. 

Parenthood has an interesting way of transforming even the greatest optimist into a realist. 

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Seventh Annual Christmas Letter

Dear friends, family and people I don't really know, 

In an effort to get my seventh annual Christmas letter out before Christmas, I began writing this the evening after Thanksgiving. I'm finishing three days after the New Year. I walk a path which is paved with 72 gravel and good intentions. I find that the holidays in your thirties are created by toggling between the excitement of smiles by Christmas tree glow and the sheer joy when the tree is down and out the door after December 25. The last thirty days have been somewhere in between.

Days are long, but the years are short. So in an effort to recap our year for this annual letter, I tend to click back through my calendar and see how we spent our year. I click through the first three months of 2017 and see: Denver, Minneapolis, Ft. Worth, South Dakota, Missouri, North Dakota, Nebraska, Illinois, Kansas and San Antonio. I didn't go to any of those places January - March, but Cody did. 

Cody's job as beef sire procurement manager with Genex remains extremely fulfilling and keeps the wheels turning on his carry-on luggage. We have a great system of communication for his travel... 

Me: Hello?
Cody: I need to go check out a bull in Nebraska before Thursday. Any reason why this can't happen?
Me: Nope, go for it. But put it on the calendar so I know what state you're in. Will you be home Friday for supper?

...and it tends to work out well. My meal planning is typically cut in half and Caroline and I stick to our routine to get everyone fed, shirts tucked in and out the door on time. I only made one call to the vet in 2017 while Cody was gone and that is a statistic I am proud of. 
Calls to my Dad? I lost count. 

In February we went to Nashville for the National Cattlemen's Beef Association Annual Convention & Trade Show. I was able to catch up with many former NCBA colleagues and Cody was awarded with the Max Deets Leadership Award. We enjoyed the jaunt to Music City tremendously. 


Throughout the year, as a family we traveled to and from Kansas a few times, Louisville, a Red's game, the county and State Fairs, three weddings and a funeral, the local Mexican joint, CVS and the pediatric center more than any of us planned on. I'm no longer intimidated by flying with Caroline. In fact, that is how I prefer she and I travel; fewer truck stop bathrooms that way. We enjoy adventure and people watching. 

In July we celebrated Caroline's first birthday. She has been an incredible little girl and a joy, nearly always. She remains my chore buddy, though she's not much for carrying buckets, kitchen helper, though she's not yet good with a paring knife and greatest source of pride. Every day she changes and learns something new. And every day she scares me a little less. It was only last week that she came to me, up to her elbows soaking wet, "Uh oh Mommy. Uh oh!"
I asked her to lead me to where she'd been, already knowing where this was going. She proudly marched into the bathroom and showed me a collection of things she'd dropped into the toilet, but couldn't retrieve by herself. Parenting can be gross. 

Those who warned us that life speeds up dramatically when children came were being quite honest. The nights seem to last seven minutes and our weekends together were tremendously brief, no matter what we were doing. 

That is why I made a huge decision in 2017 and decided to leave Harvest Land full time and focus my precious time on Caroline and our family. Working for Harvest Land for six years has been the most rewarding professional experience I've had since beginning my career. On January 1, 2018 I launched Sankey Creative, which will allow me to still do contract work with the beloved cooperative and take on other freelance creative work, while also raising Caroline. More on this later. When you realize how little time you get, you do more with the time you have. And in 2018 and beyond, I'll be investing more of my time as a mother and (farm) wife. 

Back to 2017:

In October Caroline and I went to a Halloween party. This wouldn't be letter-worthy, except for three reasons: 
  1. I don't enjoy Halloween, ever. But attended this to see an old high school friend.
  2. I showed up in costume. Unlike the rest of the adults. 
  3. Caroline wore a Purdue cheerleading uniform, and in an effort to be a "team" costume, I wore my high school cheerleading warm up. So, not only was I the only adult in costume, I also looked like Lindsay "Glory Days" Bowman who couldn't let go of her high school years. That, or a Texas cheerleader mother, living vicariously through her daughter. It was the longest Halloween party I've ever been to, and we stayed for only an hour. 
I SWEAR she has on a Purdue uniform under that coat!
I'll fondly remember 2017 as the Year of the Pears. We have a small pear tree in our yard that produced more pears than we could handle. I canned pears, made pear applesauce, pear/brie appetizers, pear pie and sliced pears for every lunch. Then had enough left over to fill two wash tubs full and give them away to those passing by. It was amazing! I felt guilty not using every last bit of them, but we were peared-out come November. In 2018 I hope to have a better pan for when they arrive. 

Cody's travel slowed late in the year and he was home the entire month of December, which only reiterated the fact that absence makes the heart grow fonder. As I type this, the suitcase is in the spare room waiting to be filled for 10 days in Denver as we start another year. 

2017 was a good year for our crew and we do hope you can say the same. We look to 2018 with great optimism and grateful hearts for all that God has offered to us. In the last week we've been enduring below zero temperatures, frozen waterers and new calves on the ground. But we have wool socks and a good chili recipe, warm water at our sink and hair dryers to thaw ears on heifer calves. 

What more does family of three need to kick off another year?

We wish you all the best in 2018. 

The Sankeys

I can't commit to reading a 300-hundred page book front to back, but somehow I've stuck to writing this deal for seven years. Click through the years:

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Oh, Mary.

At church on Christmas Eve day, our sermon was over the birth of Jesus and how - if we look through a series of events that comprise our life - God is with you, God was with you and God will be with you. 

A particular scripture our minister hit on was Luke 2:16-19: 

16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 

17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 
18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 
19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 

Luke 2:19:
But Mary treasured up 
all these things and 
pondered them in her heart. 

Oh, Mary. 
What an intimate moment for a new mother to reflect. 
Do you know what I was pondering right after I gave birth? Where Cody found the time to get a smoothie before they had cut the cord. 

In an effort to be more like Mary, on the way home from Christmas services I made a quick list of things I'm currently pondering in my heart. I jotted them down in my church bulletin:

  1. Where all the dead flies are coming from?
  2. What is the true refrigerator shelf life of chili? Also: If I pick out the beans, can chili be used in chef's surprise lasagna?
  3. How do we have self-driving cars but don’t have Christmas lights that last more than one season or temperatures below 35ยบ?
  4. When will Caroline figure out that she has yes and no mixed up? "Do you love Mommy?" "No!" as she hugs my neck. "Do you like getting your fingers pinched in doors?" "YESH!"
  5. Why won’t the livestock waterers freeze when Cody is home, but will become solid ice before he’s 50 miles down the road on a 12-day trip?
  6. A big change coming January 1.
  7. If trash pick-up is usually Monday but Monday is Christmas...when is trash pick-up? Also: If trash pick-up is usually Monday but next Monday is New Year’s Day...when is trash pick-up? This is like a bad riddle that I cannot solve.
  8. Is it appropriate to re-send a Christmas card that was returned due to a shoddy address, though Christmas has since passed? Also, when did our friends move? More importantly, where did they go?
  9. Why haven't we had a mouse problem this year? If I question it, will they come?
  10. When did I get to the age that my favorite Christmas gifts were wool socks and a cast iron skillet?

Two days later, while trying to recompose our house from the holiday, I found my notes from church. 
I guess in terms of my likeness to Mary I have a way to go.

But that doesn’t surprise either of us, 
now does it?

Wednesday, December 13, 2017


Despite my efforts in keeping the holiday simple, I feel overwhelmed by Christmas this year. 

I didn't give anyone a Christmas list for me; I do not need a thing. 

I didn't put up half my regular decorations because of a curious toddler with an impressive reach. Instead, we've watched all the classics such as Rudolph, Frosty the Snowman and Charlie Brown Christmas. 

We didn't make it through Frosty. 
Every other day we have the, "Who do we still need to buy for?" conversation and I find myself trying to think of "stuff" to fill a quota. I think that is where the overwhelming feeling sets in. I don't want to live in a Christmas quota house. 

I bought a container of ornaments two weeks ago to hang on our outdoor wreath and mantle greenery inside the house. Because half would end up outside, I bought the plastic "shatterproof" kind. 

On the same evening that I brought them home, Caroline had the container on its side and was sitting on it like a sparkly pony, bouncing into the next frontier. I was doing dishes, wondering where the draft was coming from, when I heard the bouncing but I didn't think much of it. 

"Lindsay! CJ is on your ornaments! She's riding your ornaments!" Cody called from a room over. 

I didn't react much, I think because the dish water was warm on my cold hands. "Oh, it's ok. They're shatterproof," I called over to him. 

And they are. 

Since purchase, they've been rode like a pony, rolled off a chair, drug around in a bucket, hidden in a toy box, thrown like a fit, tossed in the shower and a few were even hung on greenery. And sure enough, they're shatterproof.

I often think it would be easier - life, I mean - if we were shatterproof, too. So that we wouldn't break when relationships went bad or jobs were unfulfilling or disappointment saturated our soul. We wouldn't know when the ending was bad or the middle was mediocre or the beginning was awkward. 

Shatterproof would be best at funerals and tough first semesters; it would be great when the truck drove slowly down the road never to be seen again or on lonely Saturday nights before "the one" showed up. 

But then I think of all the things we'd miss if we were shatterproof. 

There would be no temporary conversations between dads and daughters, no walks home from the last college class worth any recollection or no more kissing boo-boos.

There would be no more feelings at kindergarten round up, no more butterflies over first glances, no more pride in the graduate. 

There would be no more excitement when the front door opens up, no more joy on the swing set or no more hand shakes worth remembering. We'd not know eulogies, mentors or last first dates. Never again would we experience wonder in a child's eyes at Christmas, the last conversation with granddad or experience an answered prayer. 

We'd have no more Hallmark Channel. And even though the story lines are identical and the kiss always happens in the last 3 minutes, I really like the Hallmark Channel. 

If we were shatterproof, we'd not know the greatest pain or joy, we'd grapple with general, rather than experience the extraordinary. 

So in terms of shatterproof, I'll stick to Christmas bulbs, and remain confident that it is both a blessing and a burden that we're able to feel everything so very deeply.

An exception for the shatterproof? This keepsake Nebraska Huskers bulb from 1995 - it was definitely not shatterproof, though I sure wish it was. Any Husker friends out there know where I can get a replacement?

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Evolution of Thankfulness

Age changes things. 

I remember being very small and being thankful for Popples, the Young Authors program at school, older siblings and days when the metal slide attached to the swing set wouldn't burn my bottom. 

I remember becoming less thankful for older siblings, but rather thankful for older siblings who were active in school activities and forgot I was around most days. 

I remember being thankful for a down-hill bike ride on my way home from my first job, a front seat view to watch a tree grow and cows

Time moved quickly and I remember being thankful for a few good friends, small engines class in the back hall and making the cheerleading squad again, despite not being able to do a back handspring. 

I remember being thankful for a brother with a parking spot at Purdue, a whole new set of sisters which arrived with endless wardrobes and being able to fit back into my jeans after my sophomore year. 

I remember being thankful for the 4th of July in Washington, DC, co-workers that would become family, the adventure that age 23 brought and a direct flight home for Thanksgiving. 

I remember being thankful for my amazing little home, a kinda-good dog, cows and a strange yet satisfying unrest in the idea that I still hadn't found what I was looking for. 

Age changes things. 

Today my thankfulness comes from a life less grandiose.

Less travel but more miles of adventure with a carseat full of Cheerios in the backseat. 

Fewer business dinners but more time spent cutting ribeye into tiny pieces and filling sip cups with milk. 

No days of being unnoticed at home, and many more days of going to the bathroom in pairs. 
Caroline and I. Not Cody and I. 

Today I'm thankful for a good nights rest, comfortable shoes and finding Kleenex in my purse that doesn't have a peppermint stuck inside. 

I'm thankful for a child that eats anything - including 4-day-old-peas-from-the-couch, a barn cat that cleans up scraps so I don't feel so guilty about trimming the fat and a good hay supply. 

I'm thankful for parents aging gracefully, Saturday afternoon visits with the Original Jean and friends from coast to coast who care. 

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. 
What is typically my favorite holiday, I wake this morning and wonder what I'll make, when I'll go to the grocery and if I have any blue cheese hiding out in the back of the refrigerator. What is the true shelf life of blue cheese? 

Age changes things.

But it doesn't change the fact that with age comes true thankfulness for a warm home because I know folks who don't have one, thankfulness for a full refrigerator because I've seen people go without, and great thankfulness for family because I know the lonely. 

When you look back on your life 
- whether twenty-one or eighty-one years - 
how has your thankfulness evolved?

I wish you a Happy Thanksgiving from the Sankey family. Thank you for spending a little part of your day with me. 

Now - who wants to send me a salad recipe that will impress my mother? 

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Why I Don't Leave Home

Last weekend Cody and I traveled to Ft. Worth for the 2017 Angus Convention

Two people. 
Two suitcases. 
No diaper bag. 

You guys - I darn near had an anxiety attack traveling without Caroline. 

It was during those brief three days that I remembered why, now that I'm a mother, I no longer leave home. Unless we're out of milk. 

1. I updated our will. 
I'm serious. After retrieving Caroline from daycare to take her to my sister's, we took the updated will to be notarized at a local business. We were flying to Texas, not Tonga. This is the state of mind I was in. 

2. I found the best sitters money can't buy. 
My sister and brother-in-law, Laura and Scott, watched Caroline for the weekend. Let's talk about the list of instructions I left for them. I put a lot of thought into the instructions on how to love our child, and I have a really bad feeling that they never even read the document before throwing it into the trash. 

I also continued to think about all of the guidance two grown adults - who have fantastic children of their own - would require when managing Caroline. So, as the weekend progressed, I sent more instruction. Least I could do. 

3. Airline travel is ridiculous.
Cody and I split ways when we got to security because he goes through TSA Pre-Check where he just bypasses all lines and walks through, iPad, laptop, boots and all. 

I, on the other hand, still mingle with the snow birds. I was moving along the security line quite well until a line of 5 (FIVE!!!!!) wheelchairs scooted up to the podium. There, the snow birds had a heck of a time remembering that they had to have their license (the one that was revoked four years ago) to go further into security. 

Because of the wheelchairs, they were able to bypass me. This took several minutes. Then, a TSA employee called for attention and loudly asked this simple question: "Do any of you have metal in your body?"

Some people just like to hear themselves talk. 

It was then that all five raised their hands and the interrogation proceeded quite quickly. The snow birds went on their merry way to head south and I jumped back in line to throw my iPad onto the security belt. 

4. I like my personal space. 
I'm not sure if it was the furry vest or the fact that the tray table was not down, but my row partner had a burning desire to rest her sleepy head in my lap. For the entire flight. I tried bouncing my leg, faking a sneeze, and reclining my seat, but girlfriend must have needed some serious rest. I get it, girl. 

5. Look Ma, No Hands
I had no idea what to do with my hands all weekend. I didn't have a kid on my hip. I wasn't carrying buckets. I wasn't pushing a stroller. I wasn't picking up sticks or toys. I was basically a big bag of skin and mascara, wandering around a massive crowd of Anderson Bean boots and Bar None hats, hearing to people ask me: Where's the baby?
"Well, good question," I constantly replied in my head. "I should probably call home immediately." 
Which leads me to #6. 

6. My phone rang off the hook. 
I thought. 
I cannot count the times I thought I heard my phone ring, beep or buzz. 
Caroline needed me. 
She had swallowed a sequin. 
She had developed a rare and severe allergy to beef. 
She was trapped in the car seat because technology had changed so greatly since Laura had kids, that Laura could not figure out how to remove her. 
I think I checked my phone something like 697 times throughout the weekend. 
My phone actually rang four times. Total.

However, there were four great successes of the weekend:
1. I spent really good quality time with my in-laws who I see every couple of months. 
2. The event I was there to help facilitate went quite well and I'm even better prepared to do it again 2018. 
3. I learned that Caroline can survive for several days and have a wonderful time without me. This made me smile and cry. Roots and wings, right?

4. Lastly, I had four (4!!!!!) strangers approach me and tell me that they read and enjoy this blog. I wanted to hug them and visit with them and ask them how they stumbled upon my writing. 

But then I had to excuse myself because I thought I heard my phone ring.