Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Side Ditch Surprise

If Mom hadn't called, I would have never noticed the side ditch surprise. 

Let me back up. 

On Monday night I took Caroline to her first ever Wayne County Grand National of the World. 
Which is also our county fair, but by the way some parents act, you'd think their kids were competing for some sort of international-full-ride-scholarship-title. 
I digress. 

Anyway, I picked up Caroline from daycare, stopped by mom and dad's to circle the wagons then we headed to the fairgrounds. We didn't make it through all the livestock barns, but we had a ball seeing many of the moving parts of a mid-America county fair. 

Then Mom offered to do something she would have never done for her own children: She offered to buy a pony ride for each of the grandkids that were there that evening. After dishing out half of her life savings to a gal who was wearing a Jim Beam apron and speaking Spanish to run-down ponies, Caroline, Oscar and Georgia (cousins) saddled up for three rides around the pen. 

Many thanks to my friend Heather for snapping these photos for me. 
Check out Heather's site!

Mom, why do you always get me in these situations?

This was Caroline's expression during the entire 4-minute ride

She held tight to the horn and rode that pony like a real prairie queen. Or a terrified 11-month-old. Either way - it was fun...until our time was over. WOWZA can this little girl throw a fit when you're peeling her off a pony. 

Cody is in Kansas hosting 45 Argentines this week so I was anxious to send him pictures of our little girl on a little pony.  He has also done some time in the saddle, you know. 

The next day...

Yesterday I went to the post office; on my way back to the office Mom called. 
I'll be quite honest: my favorite song was on the radio and I considered not answering, and calling her back when the song was over. 

I'm so glad I answered. 

We chatted all the way (7 minutes) back to the office, then I put my car in park in the co-op parking lot as we visited more. But then something got my attention. Something across the street. 

"Mom. Wait. You know that tanning salon across from the co-op?"
I asked, unaware if she answered or not. 
"I think there is a tiny saddle out front. Let me call you back."

I hung up on my mother. 

You guys. Don't ever hang up on your mother. 
Unless you spy a tiny saddle in the side ditch of the tanning salon that also sells used cars. 
Next to the muffler shop. 
Across the street from the gas station best known for syringes hidden in toboggans in the back lot. 

I got out of my car and crossed the busy street, anyway. 

I've always been a junkie for junk. 
I was actually on a date once when I asked the guy to pull his truck over so I could load two antique doors out of someone's trash pile and into the bed of his truck. 
We didn't have a second date. 
But I still have those damn doors. 
Anyone need doors?

So when I saw a little saddle laying in the grass along a busy road, I thought back to the previous night and the joy (I think? Her face didn't change until the dismount) Caroline had riding a pony. 

I texted Cody, unsure if he'd be able to answer me with his international guests. 

It was right about then that I remembered that Cody is Harry Shepler's great-grandson. He doesn't exactly take saddles lightly.
Also, we're first-time parents who think our daughter can take on the world: 

Twenty minutes later I left the tanning salon with no sun, but a saddle I spotted in the front yard, for a horse that we don't even own.

This story is a two-part lesson:

1. Always answer the phone when your mother calls. You never know what slowing down for a few minutes and visiting with her will do for you. 

2. Take time - even in a world glued to cell phones - to notice all that is going on around you. In the hustle and bustle of a busy day (and life), how often do we miss opportunities because we're not even aware of the things that surround us? I may not be talking about discounted toys or treasures; I may be talking about people. 

Caroline turns one in ten days. 

There is work 
- scrubbing - cleaning - oiling - polishing -
 to be done 

Stay tuned. 

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Swim Lessons

Just when I thought I couldn't take on any more with Cody's travel schedule (he's on a 10-day run, currently), I recently enrolled Caroline in swim lessons. 

Dumb. Dumb. Dumb. 

Yep, she can't walk, but I'd like her to make it across should shit get real and we have to ford the river as a family. 

Truth: I'm not a strong swimmer but I'd like Caroline to be.
I want her to be better than I. 

We arrived to lessons thirty minutes early because I knew I'd have to sign my life away on paperwork saying they weren't responsible if Caroline slipped out of my arms. Or if I slipped on the wet tiles. And also that I'd not take pictures of anyone in the locker room. This is the world we're living in. I initialed "no promises" on the first two but signed off on number three. 

Then we traveled to the ladies' locker room to find it full of ten or so young girls, around age nine. Let me tell you about the confidence they had....I loved it so much. They were giggling and talking and joking and pulling spandex out of places that would have mortified their mothers. But they were having fun. I kissed the forehead of the chunk in my arms and hoped that one day she would feel comfortable in her skin, enough to have such fun. 

I've done a lot with Caroline, just she and I. At just 4 weeks we flew to and from Kansas City alone. That was just the beginning. I told a coworker recently that the more I do with her, the more empowered I feel. She doesn't prohibit me from anything - I just learn to get creative or stronger. In the last week she and I have planted the garden, checked, fed and rotated pastures for cattle on three different farms, pulled weeds, watered flowers, done our bill paying, grocery shopping, laundry, made freezer meals, attended church and a BBQ, and somewhere in there - we slept at the same time. And I went to work.
But none of this is impressive to any other mother. 

Let me tell you the hardest thing I've done with Caroline, yet: Swim lessons. 

Infant swim lessons are like an episode of Ninja Warrior where you don't let the participant sleep for 11 months, then you strip them of all modesty, then you tell them the reward at the end is passing a McDonald's at exit 137 off of I-70. 

The best thing about the young, confident girls in the locker room was having such hope in what is to come when raising a daughter. The second best thing was the fact that Caroline was so fixated on them that she had no idea that I changed her diaper into a "Lil Swimmer", stripped her of her daycare clothes and then attempted to stuff her into her tiny bathing suit. 

It was when I had to stand her up to stretch the straps over her shoulders that she realized mom was getting her into another "situation". Bless her heart. 11+ months old an already too long for a 12-month suit. We made it work but I think I have a few coupons to burn this weekend. 

FYI: I made quite sure no one else 
was in the locker room before snapping this photo. 

The secret in pre-gaming swim lessons is not letting her skin touch anything that any other person in the history of the world may have come in contact with. I'm not a clean freak (have ya seen our farmhouse?), but I've read just enough on the internet to know that public locker rooms are breeding grounds for bad stuff. 
Also, I got athlete's foot once when I was 13, and I'm not even athletic. So I know it travels. 

I had to change her diaper and put her in a bathing suit, then put myself in a bathing suit, without setting her down. Anywhere. She was in my arms the entire time. 
Shimmy Shimmy Coco Puff. Shimmy Shimmy....WOW.
And, I kept my shoes on. 

The easy part was the swim lesson itself. For not having a bathtub at home, Caroline sure acted like a water baby and was anxious to get out of my arms to explore the water. Unfortunately, my life jacket often got in the way and she had to pull me back to shore.  

The true test came after the lesson. 
You know, 
when you have to shimmy 
two soggy suits off of
two girls 
who wear their suits 
two sizes 
too small. 

Caroline only says three words clearly right now, but I'm certain that during this escapade she mumbled, "Mom, this is ridiculous."
I couldn't agree more. 

Once we were stripped of spandex, we reluctantly stood in line for the one shower in the joint that provided warm water. There we were, just she and I and a whole lot of skin, with other people watching. It was like labor again, but worse. At least when I was in labor I had enough sense to wash my face prior to, and I didn't look like Kiss crossed with a strung out mom. I didn't even think to wear waterproof mascara for swim lesson days. Caroline kept looking at my face and taking her tiny finger along my running, wet mascara and then licking it. She must have thought it was chocolate. 
If only. 

Once the public shower was ours, I gave her a quick sponge bath consisting of baby body wash under a shower head that spray every direction but straight. By the time I got the suds out of Caroline's hair the line for the warm water was seven deep. I felt guilty. 

I wrapped her, dried her, patted her, covered her, diapered her, lotioned her, and then stuffed her into a sleeper. She wasn't overly impressed but we were approaching bedtime so nothing short of her daddy would have impressed the baby. 

Caroline slept the entire ride home. I considered pulling into McDonald's for a quick cat nap, but people passed out in cars while kids are in the back seat is how you end up on the news. 

We're going to stay the course and attend every class we can this summer. 
Right after we buy swimsuits that fit. 

Thursday, June 1, 2017

A Day Off and a Dollar Short

Did you guys know yesterday was Wednesday?
Yeah. I figured that one out about eight hours prior. 

As Cody rolls his suitcase through the living room:
"Boy, you're packing early. You don't leave until Wednesday!" I remarked, folding clothes, lightly thinking about his next coast-to-coast trip. 
"You know tomorrow is Wednesday, right?" Cody responded at 7:54 PM. 
It was as though I ran into a wall without standing up. 

Darn You Three Day Weekend!

Isn't is amazing what one day off can do to a routine? 

Since your kids are out on summer break and you still haven't put on mascara, let me tell you about our Memorial Day Weekend and the days that have since followed. 

At approximately 3:12 PM Saturday I ran out of cash at the Amish greenhouse and tried really hard to bargain with two 10-year-olds who only spoke dutch. They had no interest in trading succulents for Caroline's dishwashing talents, so we rolled outta there without hens & chicks. I told them I'd come back Monday with adequate funds...but I didn't have the guts to show my face again. 

At approximately 5:07 PM Saturday afternoon unexpected company rolled up our lane. My genetics kicked in and I instinctively grabbed everything I could find and threw it someplace no one would ever think to look: the shower. 

At 9:00 PM the day cooled down, I had planted every thing I'd purchased, I put Caroline in the kiddie corral and started a shower for myself. I let the bathroom fill with steam then cracked the window for some awesome springtime air. 
Then I climbed in. 
Twenty seconds later, my soil-covered self came to realize that I was suddenly showering with everything I'd hidden in the shower at 5:07 PM.

Who else in the entire history of the world can say they have showered with:
Two issues of Country Living 
A Farm Bureau bill
A lapel pin from judging the Ft. Worth Stock Show
Two dirty dish towels 
A cup of oatmeal, 12 hours old
A baby spoon
An oatmeal-caked bib 
Keys to a 4-wheeler
A wedding invitation from 2016
A light bulb
Two packets of hotel coffee
and finally: Caroline's rubber ducky. 
I do believe I've never had that much fun in the shower. 
Everything is now drying on the back patio. 

The next afternoon I drug myself into CVS and bought
Dry shampoo 
Waterproof mascara 
A sympathy card
A probiotic
Shoe polish 
and finally: Wine 
With every scanned "BEEP" I felt like I was being judged. 
But then I thought: add manure to this fiasco and it's pretty well my life summed up in a red plastic basket. 

An hour later we returned home and I sat in my vehicle and leaned against the headrest while Caroline slept, 18 inches away. We sat there for less than two minutes and I drifted to sleep, dreaming about the state of California sinking into a sea of Pace Picante. 
So that's my life right now. 

For Caroline's first Memorial Day Weekend we honored, listened, swung, prayed, sang, ate, twirled, rocked, climbed, drove, checked, watched, rolled, giggled, and rested very, very little. And Caroline still woke at 4:03 AM Tuesday morning. We are committed to teaching her the true meaning of Memorial Day. 

It wasn't until the "Boy, you're packing early. You don't leave until Wednesday!" comment on Tuesday evening that I remembered that I'd lost a day of writing in this week.

On Wednesday afternoon my trusty Outlook calendar kindly reminded me that I had a dentist appointment in 15 minutes. Again: I thought it was tomorrow. 
I texted my boss and told him I'm an idiot and would be leaving early, went to the ladies' restroom and flossed/brushed my teeth, then sped out of the office as a woman on a mission. 
Ten minutes later I found myself parking my car at the pediatric center, not the dentist. I sat in the parking lot for ten seconds quite confused. Where am I and how did I get here? It was as though my car was on auto-pilot from the last 6 months of ear infections. 
I'm convinced that stress overload and a three day weekend can cause havoc on any (semi-) sane person. 

So here I am. 
Hoping the Farm Bureau bill dries out before it is due and awaiting a new fitting for my night gear retainer, at age 32. 

Life has a funny way of humbling people 
when they think they have it all together. 

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

A Mother's Day to Remember

"Welcome to your first Mother's Day," my sister said to me with a smile while we were standing on the sidewalk outside the restaurant, in an effort to pacify my 10-month old while we waited on our delayed meals. 

Though our reservation was for lunch, my first Mother's Day had already proven to be a real doozy. 

Caroline spiked a 102.5 fever the evening before. We spent the evening and night checking on her. At 4:00 AM she decided to start her day, fever and all. I rocked her from 4:00 - 5:30, when she finally went back to sleep. But Cody and I didn't. 

This was also the Sunday that our church moved to new service times. Our later service time had been eliminated, so we planned on attending an earlier one. No problem, right? Unless you've got your little one on a strict schedule. It threw our whole morning off. That, and lack of sleep. 

We made it to church on time, tossed Caroline into the loving arms of some woman in the nursery, telling the church ladies good luck, and went two floors up to our beloved balcony seats. We try to one-up the back row Baptists. The service about mothers was wonderful, I of course cried, and in no time we went back downstairs to retrieve Caroline. We were met with this: 
"We made her a bottle but there were no tops in the bag, so we couldn't feed her. She's ready to eat!" said the gal working the nursery. 

Strike One. 
How do we pack for a Mother's Day out, without packing the most important part of the bottle? 

Between church and lunch we stopped at K-Mart to buy the missing parts we needed. K-Mart is a shell of what it used to be and barely keeping the lights on; still, it took Cody 15 minutes to find something suitable to feed a fussy, hungry 10-month-old. 

We arrived to The Olde Richmond Inn (mom's favorite) fifteen minutes early so I could feed and change Caroline before the rest of our family got there. Except, Caroline was having absolutely no part of the new K-Mart sippy cup and there was too much going on around her for her to want to eat anything from a spoon, at all. 
She was hangry and defiant: A dangerous combination.
So, I decided to cut to the chase and change her diaper. 
Except the diaper tote wasn't inside the diaper bag. 
It was sitting on the dinning room table at home. 

That's right. 
Strike Two. 
In our haste to make the earlier church service,  we planned a Mother's Day Off the Farm without any diapers. 
Not one diaper. 
No wipes.
No cream. 
I thought he grabbed them. 
He thought I grabbed them. 

By the end of the two-hour lunch (wait service was shoddy), Caroline was 12 pounds heavier and soggy as a swamp. Anyone who wanted to hold and kiss her was warned that their clothes would need dry cleaned. 
No one seemed to care, but me. 

The lunch itself...
We love this restaurant, but this meal was so disappointing. My medium-rare filet was so over-cooked that my throat closed and I spent 30 minutes in a bathroom stall trying to get a tiny (look at the size of your middle finger nail - it was that small) piece of over-cooked beef dislodged. It was awful. 

But then came the voice from one stall over...

I knew she was over there because she was having one heck of a time getting her panty hose pulled back up. Misery loves company and on this particular day mine came from the next stall. 
"Honey, you need me to tell someone out there that you need some help?"
"No ma'am, I'm fine. Thank you," I responded, quite embarrassed. 
Suddenly, a loud and unsolicited prayer came from a stall away:
"Lord Jesus we need you! Lord Jesus protect this lady; and Jesus please make it end soon. End It Soon Jesus! Amen."

I stood there in my Sunday best, staring at a framed mid-century postcard that needed dusted inside a wallpapered bathroom stall and thought to myself: Happy Mother's Day, indeed. 
"Amen," I echoed Miss Daisy. 

That evening I did dishes as the sun slowly moved behind the milk house. 
I could hear Cody zipping around the farm on the Kubota, working another hour before dark. 
I was thinking that it's a shame I didn't double my supper recipe so I could have lunches this week. I was thinking how our kitchen window needs replaced so badly; I can't even see the tree where Caroline's swing hangs. Maybe it just needs washed really well. I was thinking about how I went to church and town without diapers. I can't believe I did that. 
And then I felt two little hands 
grab ahold of my leg, tugging with gentle force and with great confidence. I stopped with my hands in a sink full of soapy water and looked down at a little face so full of joy and pride, as she stood hugging my leg. 

And it was in that moment that I realized - despite the fever, no bottle, no diapers, throat closure, stall-sister prayers - this was the best Mother's Day of my life. 

Thank you, God, 
for showing mothers grace 
on days that we 
don't think we deserve it. 

Side note:
 I came home yesterday to a new kitchen window. I'm serious.
I believe God truly hears the desires of our heart. 
And every once in a (great, great) while after enough complaining,
I guess husbands do, too. 

Trim from the Compromising Crib

Saturday, May 13, 2017

I Had No Idea

Friends, family and readers of this blog gave me plenty of really great motherly advice and insight as I transitioned into motherhood. I listened to each bit and truly tried to absorb it while mentally preparing myself for what lied ahead. 

I learned early that there is no preparing for motherhood. You learn from day-to-day just how much you don't know. 

I had no idea the joy I would find in watching someone sleep. At what age does this get weird for Caroline?


I had no idea that mobile babies are most curious when you enter the bathroom. Is this a proven science? What is it about the bathroom that attracts tiny fingers and toes? I can be across the house, in the bathroom washing my face, and I won't get the suds rinsed off before looking down to find this face waiting on me. 
How did you find me and what do you want?

I had no idea how important rest is to your body and mind. I believe I started motherhood behind the eight ball, having been in labor for 27 hours then not sleeping afterwards (I think my body was in shock). Cody was awake and very present for every second of those 27 hours. When I told him I was exhausted, I'll never forget him responding with: "At least you got to pass out between pushes!"
Like....that is my life.  
All I want for Mother's Day is a nap. 
Which is so cliche, and oh, so real. 

I had no idea that someone who can't even enjoy pepper jack cheese would be so sneaky with the refrigerator. Cody can strangely hear me open the freezer for ice cream three rooms away, but I can't hear Caroline open the refrigerator and pull out a jar of salsa while I'm washing bottles 5 feet away? How does that work?

I had no idea the wave of sadness that comes over a mother when she begins folding clothes with little grippers on the bottoms of the footie pajamas. 

I had no idea that there were so many crazy drivers on the road. If you come within 8 feet of my vehicle while Caroline is in the car, I'm calling 911 and reporting reckless driving. 
Our local department has added me to their Do-Not-Call list. 

I had no idea that food intake and output was so important. I have documented more ounces and textures than I ever imagined.
What did I eat yesterday? A banana and cup of coffee on my way to work at 7:15. No idea after that
What did Carline eat yesterday?
6 oz. bottle
Cereal and bananas
Turkey, whole grains and sweet potatoes
1/16 of the Jungels ad in the July 2016 Shorthorn Country
4 oz. bottle
Pears and Corn
Hawiaan Delight
2 ladybugs
6 oz. bottle

I had no idea that the same person could be completely overjoyed because she finally got what she wanted and terribly sad at the same time.

I had no idea the kind of man I married. I knew he was a good guy, I didn't know he was made to be a father. I can count ONE TIME in 10+ months that Cody did not get up with Caroline and I in the night. Only once has he actually slept through her cries. Every other time he (was either 1,000 miles away sorting bulls or) had his feet on the floor and was changing diapers with me. That's a stand-up man. Thanks, Chris & Sharee

I had no idea how much I would miss certain smells: newborn skin, lemon Pledge, Windex, a freshly mopped floor. 

I had no idea how bad shots hurt when you aren't even on the receiving end. Who has cried more during shots: Caroline or I? That's a question I'm not willing to answer. We're raising one tough chick. 

I had no idea about the things that can run through your mind in the quiet darkness while you're rocking a baby:
Paying for college
Car accidents
Mean middle school girls
The possible consequences of swallowing a sequin
Study abroad trips
Strep throat
That chick on Dateline back in January
Shopping with a daughter - when I absolutely hate shopping
Social media
Our future son-in-law

I had no idea how much I would look forward to a simple Sunday in May.Mother's Day has a much sweeter meaning for me this year and will for the rest of my life. What an honor and blessing it is to be entrusted to raise this little girl. 


Happy Mother's Day to the women who 
guide, raise, nurture, discipline, coach, console, encourage, and love -  
whether you've give birth, or not. 

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Cleaning out the Caboodle

I woke two weeks ago with this realization: I need a change in my life. 
My first tattoo? 
NO. I prefer my ink on expensive paper. 
Back to my crazy college hair cut?
NO. It was semi-OK at 22. 
At 32 it's called Mom-Hair. 
You and I both know I don't have time for a straightener and pomade. 

So we're clear - this is a dated sorority photo and has been cropped. 
I was definitely wearing a shirt. 

Instead, I decided to rid my life of the excess baggage that lives within the confines of our home. 

Yep. Time to clean out the Caboodle. 

I have tried a lot of beauty products over the years. Much of the arsenal I've built over time stems from my years as a little sister, five years younger than Laura. If she tried it, I tried it after she went to bed. Then when she moved to IU, I bought my own - whether it broke out my face, or not. We all want what we can't have  - - - and I always wanted to be 5 years older. 

As a mother and wife, I'm embarrassed to report that 80% of our bathroom storage is full of products I don't use but I can't throw away. 

So when I recently woke with this strange urge to toss, I ran with the feeling. 

Here is what I found:

The "ALL SKIN TYPES" banner is ludicrous. It barely worked when I was 15. At 32: disaster. I used this tub of St. Ives Apricot Scrub two Sundays ago and Caroline still won't quit licking my face. Which is weird because she refuses to eat Gerber peaches. I guess if I add some sand to it she will be all-in? OMG. We're raising the girl that eats glue in kindergarten. 

I found three different Herbal Essence bottles. Two have since separated contents, the third wants to but she hasn't found the right Gwen Stefani song to solidify her decision. In an effort to make room in our bathroom, I poured all three into the bottle with the best top - you know, the one with the cap still attached - and created my own 1997 Shampoo/Conditioner-in-One. It smells like moldy clover and vinegar and makes my scalp tingle. Should I patent  this?

I found more lip products than I care to write about. Apparently I thought it appropriate to spend a small fortune on  Mary Kay Satin Lips. Today I spend $3.00 every five years on a 4-pound tub of Vaseline and call it done. But don't you worry. I found three LipSmackers that are already in my computer bag. Only two of them have melted into the cap.

I'm hanging on lemon Sun-In that is so old it would probably be better suited as Drain-o than it would hair product, at this point. But there is 2/3 of a bottle left and I hate to just pour it down the drain. 

Exclamation wasn't great in 1994 and is 3493 times worse in 2017. I spritzed this in the barn cats' water and walked back to the house with my fingers crossed. Stay tuned. Never know. 

I've hated both cucumbers and watermelons since 2001 and it wasn't until I cleaned out this bathroom storage that I realized why. I slathered my body in this green balm for 4-ish years. I can smell it from across the house as I type this. 
I'm gagging. 
I can't. 
I trashed it. 
25% full. 
Please don't tell my mom. 

Even with these products consolidated or tossed, I got ready for work this morning and realized I still have a long way to go. While trying to find a particular shade of lipstick that was part of the Clinique free gift in 2002, I ran across three open jars of Noxema. 

I then ran to the kitchen and laid out a rubber spatula for my after work project.
Waste not, want not.