Wednesday, January 31, 2018

First Camp Out

Caroline and I had our first camp out last week. I guess I had just imagined it to be

The camp out wasn't planned, rather a last-minute change of Thursday evening plans. We were watching the evening news when she made the decision to make a night of it. 

I certainly wasn't prepared, but like the girl scout I never was (Laura was a girl scout, Luke was a cub scout, I was the third child), I learned to adapt to the situation. Real quick like.

Rather than a waterproof tent, we situated ourselves behind the shelter of a shower curtain. Clean up was easier that way. 

There were no ghost stories to give us the shivers, but I repeated these words in an effort to comfort an 18-month old: "You're ok, mommy is here, we'll get through this." That last part was more for my peace of mind.

There were no s'mores, rather Caroline showed me over and over - and over - again what she'd had for lunch that day. I didn't have much of an appetite after that. 

Rather than a sky full of beautiful stars, when we looked up we saw little flecks of paint peeling off the ceiling above the shower. I'd not noticed them so much before, but when you have an all-night camp out in the shower, you have time to observe more than you do in the 5:00 wake-up hour.

There were no hooting owls or coyotes howling in the far off distance to really make us perk up, but rather every time Caroline's little body made a sound I prepared myself for the worst and was usually met with it. 

Unlike most camp outs, when the littlest camper began crying for their parents, I couldn't just make a phone call and send her home; she was already there. 

I did, however, send a brief text to Cody that said, "This is really bad. Wish you were here." 
A minute later, Cody called from some far away place and asked a stupid simple question: 
What can I do to help? 

I answered that question the exact same way I answered it nearly two years ago when he asked the same while I was in labor. It wasn't pretty, kind or worth sharing with all of you.

Our first camp out was in fact the worst camp out, ever. 

But it is over now, and we're operating on all cylinders at the Sankey homestead. It took a whole lot of Lysol and two full loads of laundry to get our home back from something that was supposed to take place in the back yard. I've tried to eliminate the confines of the sick house and gotten Caroline outside more in the last week than in the whole month of January. 

I think next time Caroline mentions a camp out, I'm just going to send her to Grandma and Grandpa Bowman's. It’s a scientific fact that everything is more fun at a grandparent’s house.

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: