Wednesday, October 19, 2016

When Time Stands Still

Sometimes I wonder why I am the way I am.

Then I go visit Momma and Dad.

Sunday afternoon Caroline and I drove down to BSG to get ready for a farm tour they were going to host the next day. Momma and Dad are good at many things, and one is educating the public about responsible beef production. Monday evening was the third time in a year they’ve opened their farm to the public and made themselves available for any question asked. Any question asked.

Momma and I went over the timeline for the evening, the expected guests and our last minute to-do list. As I was gathering up the diaper bag and getting ready to head north Momma spoke these all too familiar words: Before you leave, will you help me with something?

Over the last fourteen years (since I last lived at home) this request has resulted in:
Fashion shows
Window washing
Googling some 1960s musician to “see if they’re still alive”
Crawling under beds
Reading a devotional that really spoke to her
Searching through the attic
Programing a cell phone
Trying to read her own writing
Lugging a tote of my high school memorabilia downstairs and to my car
Checking her email
Using scissors to cut, trim, snip or kill something

But Sunday afternoon was different.
Sunday afternoon she wanted to me to set the microwave clock. 
No problem.

I asked her what time it was. While she checked her watch I simultaneously walked over to the counter and grabbed my phone. A generational thing.

“4:57,” she said.
“4:55,” I rebutted, showing her my screen.

Within 15 seconds I had the microwave set, from 3:18 (I was just as confused as you) to 4:56. I’m a peacekeeper.

She went on to ask if I’d also set the clock radio under the spice cupboard while I was there. I looked over at it:  12:23. I set it for 4:57.
Out of curiosity, I glanced over at the oven clock: 4:20.
The clock that hangs over the doorway (this one actually has hands): 7:15.
The coffee maker: 9:07.
What in the world? It was as though every clock in the kitchen had reset itself throughout the day at different times.

I asked Momma about it. She went on to explain that they’d all been “off a bit” for months but she didn’t mess with them because she was afraid she’d accidentally set a alarm or timer and she would wake up to the sound of the microwave making a pot of coffee with Italian seasoning at 3 am.
Fair enough. 

This wasn’t only room in their big old farmhouse that needed some attention when it came to living in the present. While every room the in house had been demolished and eventually restored (you’ve read The HouseThat Built Me series, right?), not a single room in that homestead was keeping time. But with every clock, whether far ahead or way behind, came a lesson

For the sake of time, we’re going to start in the kitchen.

The microwave, set from 3:18 pm to 4:56 pm: Be patient. Perhaps if I type this enough in my writing I’ll begin to listen to myself. Time and patience travel hand in hand, though sometimes one seems to drag the other. Do remember that its only when nothing is certain that anything is possible.

The spice cabinet, set from 12:23 am to 4:57 pm: Use the good stuff. I know you’re saving the good wine for a reason worth it’s taste and you’re saving the good hair product for the days when you want to look your best and you're saving the expensive candle for when company is coming over and you're saving the good china for a meal worth presenting and you’re saving the bubble bath for the day that you really deserve it and you’re waiting to break the starch on your favorite jeans when it’s a day that matters. I’ll only say this: The people that died yesterday had something planned for today. Use the good stuff.

Oven clock, set from 4:20 to 4:20. The oven clock wasn’t reset. As it turns out, the oven (installed during the kitchen remodel the same summer I was born, 30+ years ago), hasn’t worked in at least a decade, so its worth no ones time to rub their fingers raw trying to twist the knob. But remember that even on your worst days – when it seems nothing can go right – that even a broken clock is right twice a day.

Let's knock off there. I'm going to be super honest when I say that I have a sweet little crazy train ready for a night cap and This Is Us begins in about 3 minutes. And believe it or not - no matter how I was raised - I like to be on time

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

What We Can All Learn From Ken Bone

All I wanted was to fold our towels and washcloths alone upstairs in our bedroom, put them away in the bathroom, and avoid any heated argument. 

It didn't work. 

My plan to avoid the presidential debate was foiled when I carried the full load of clean towels downstairs and across the living room. 
I stopped briefly to check on Cody and Caroline in the recliner and turned to face the television just in time to hear Anderson Cooper introduce Ken Bone. 

What a name, I thought to myself. 

If you recognize the name Ken Bone you likely watched the debate, also. 
If you recognize this face you have likely watched television in the last two days. 

I don't know too much about this guy other than he captivated the country by bringing a fresh face and a red sweater to a vicious conversation between two enemies. It's as though the world stopped spinning and the dust settled a bit when that white tie and mustache took center stage. 

He is the first guy I've ever seen wear a white tie with no plans of getting married in less than an hour. 

I do know - while studying him in the media briefly in over the last 48 hours - that we can all learn a thing or three from the one and only Ken Bone. 

1. Flexibility pays off greatly in the long run

I'm actually not talking about running, at all. 

Ken made a split (pun so intended) decision to address a major issue and it ended up in his favor. He packed a lovely olive suit but had to wear a second string red sweater because of a last-minute catastrophe. His ability to evaluate a situation and act differently than planned put this guy on the map. It made him the absolute highlight of a nationally broadcasted train wreck. 

If you could just accept the fact that your plan may not be perfectly working out, what kind of reward might be waiting for you in the end?

2. Live in the Moment

This idea can be transformed into such a cliche, but Ken Bone can not. 
This is actual footage of Ken in a moment in time where he seized an opportunity. 
With a disposable camera. 
Like, the kind made of plastic and paper that comes in a foil wrapper. 
From a gas station. 

But because Ken had the 
1) confidence to wander aimlessly and alone around a set and 
2) determination to get a good shot and 
3) ingenuity to bring a disposal camera to a debate where cellular devices were banned 
he now has a keepsake photo (or 32) to commemorate the worst election in the history of our country and the night he broke the internet. You all know I believe in the power of film cameras. Seeing Ken take these photos sure brought a smile (giggle) to my face. 

When the credits roll, is your family going to have any record of the days you really lived, or will they all be one your cell phone or hard drive?

3. Be Unapologetically You
This is the most important thing we can learn from Ken Bone. 
Interview - after interview - after interview:
Ken doesn't apologize for his awkward last minute outfit change.
Ken doesn't hesitate to mention his beloved family (he mentions his grandfather, his grandmother and his mother). 
Ken doesn't pretend to abandon his real life responsibilities because every news channel in America came knocking. 
Ken remains solid, true to himself, confident and quirky as all get out. 

And I absolutely adore that about this stranger. 

In Caroline's nursery hangs this sign that I read every single day (or, night). It's not something my parents every said to me, but it is certainly something they taught me. They instilled this strong desire to never lose my unique, personal identity. This is the exact reason why I didn't over-pluck my eyebrows down to pencil thin lines like 73% of gals, ages 14 - 22, did in 2001.

In this entire world - this entire history - this entire galaxy:
God created only one you. 
Why (Why? Why? Why?) would you ever want to be like someone else?
Nothing about you is accidental. 
And no one in this entire world has the amazing ability to be you.
Be Unapologetically you.  

I could have folded laundry Sunday night in our living room with the two snooze buckets in the recliner but I wanted to remove myself from any negativity that may lie ahead. Instead, I walked in on a perfect life lesson from some guy I'll never have the opportunity to meet. 

One thing is certain: I'll take some random guy in a red sweater who loves his grandma blowing up my media feed any day over politics.

The world needs more Ken Bone

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Secret Weapons

This summer brought a lot of change to our family. A July baby, of course, being the greatest change, shedding a whole new light on just how much of a partnership marriage really is. The carpet in our upstairs is only three years old but I’m certain we are about to wear a path from pacing throughout the darkest hours.
m certain we are
ut to wear a path from pacing throughout the darkest hours.
Then in August Cody accepted a new challenge/job, but not after much discussion as a family. This included confirming with CJ and I that we could, in fact, keep one another - and a herd of cattle – alive while he traveled the United States. We confirmed that sounded doable. We were also running on three hours of sleep and didn’t know where I ended and she began.

Right about the time CJ and I get a routine down I’ll be heading back to work, but so far so good. We haven’t faced a task on the farm that the two of us gals couldn’t take on; ask me again when the snow falls and I hope to still say the same.

But let me tell you something about choring with an infant: It ain’t easy.

I will admit: I have three secret products that keep me on track, CJ fairly happy and the herd thriving. I’ll share those three with you – and only you.
Our little secret. 

1. Yoga mat shoes
High five to those moms who 1. Mom and 2. Go to yoga.
We’re only 20 minutes from the closest yoga studio (I think?), but I have no plans of attending a class that tells me to pray like a dog. Don’t get me wrong: I’m certain there are benefits to wearing elastic pants and stretching like a llama in heat, but when I have that kind of time, I just want to drool on my pillow.

Instead, I bought “yoga mat shoes” at the grocery store (spotted them in the sale bin while waiting in line) and now – every single day – I step on a yoga mat. On my yoga mat I open gates, sort stock, toss buckets, fill feed pans, throw hay and sling a car seat from one adventure to the next. What yoga pose encompasses all of those movements?: It's called The Strung Out New Mom.

Advanced levels allow you to hold a glass of wine while doing all of the above.

2. Car seat base paired with a Kubota

Can’t carry buckets and a baby? Strap her in the Kubota.
Fussy baby? Strap her in the Kubota.
Think you see a cow in heat but fearful you can’t correctly ID her in time and get the baby out the door? Strap her in the Kubota.
Baby hasn’t taken a nap in two days? Strap her in the Kubota.

The changing views, growling diesel engine, ability to see mom and taking in lots of fresh air keeps CJ occupied (actually, asleep) and me buzzing around the farm crossing things off the to-do list. This was the first modification Cody made after accepting this job: a safe way for me to haul the baby and get things done.

3.  Concept-Aid 50 lb. Power Tub

Cody can ask me to
    Feed hay
    Get cows off a hay field
    Work with the vet to preg check stock
    Mail in blood samples
    Assist in the splinting of a broken leg
    Hold it all together with a smile on my face – for the most part.
But feeding mineral tubs alone?
Yeah – that’s where I used to draw the line.
There’s just no way a 500 lb. gal like me can move a 200 lb. mineral tub by herself.

And the baby doesn’t exactly pull her weight.  

But there is a new kid on the block. 
VitaFerm came up with the  Concept-Aid 50 lb. Power Tub and it must have been built for ladies on the farm.

It is the same product our cows need as the nutritional value of grass changes, and delivers the same results. The only difference: packaged in a smaller size so the Gals of Management can pasture-deliver without any kind of awkward llama pose. This has been a game-changer at our place, allowing me to take care of something I never could before.


Now, if the folks at Biozyme could just come up with a way for CJ and I to effectively move a mature bull off the herd without fear, there would be nothing we couldn’t do together.

Maybe we’ll just stick to mineral and yoga shoes, for now.

Since CJ has pretty well mastered the mineral feeding, I think next week we will attempt something even more dangerous and agonizing: trying on clothes in a public dressing room so I can go back to work without looking like a hobo. 

Stay tuned. You all know how I feel about dressing rooms.

This is a sponsored post brought to you by BioZyme. The opinions are completely my own based on my experience.