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.