Winter/Springtime Ranching

Winter is my least favorite ranching season.  The weather is generally wet, cold, blustery, and rather than sipping hot cocoa, we have to be out in the inclement weather feeding cows or pulling calves or mending fence or breaking ice.  I use the term “we” very loosely here.  This year, the traditional winter months of November, December and January were actually fairly pleasant and mild.  We were able to keep our cows on cornstalks through much of January and bring them home in dry conditions.  This was the first time my little family has gathered a field of cows all by ourselves.  Becca rode with Mr. Rancher.  As he is the most experienced rider, he had to do most of the cattle-chasing, which means he trotted or loped more than the rest of us.  Trotting and loping are not comfortable for passenger riders and Mr. Rancher held Miss Becca around her waist and off to the side most of the time to keep her from being slammed into the saddle horn with each footfall of the horse.

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Miss Henley and I took it nice and easy, gingerly picking our way through the trampled ground and over the deep pivot tracks.  Lucy, Henley’s horse, kept jumping over the pivot tracks which made Henley scream in terror.  She finally was scared and exasperated enough after four or five jumps that she choked up on her reins and held Lucy in check until we made it out of the field.

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She did very well for her first time really gathering cows.

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Once the cows were home, the daily grind of feeding began.  I don’t have to feed much…I always seem to have an excuse like a baby or a job or something that gets me out of the frigid early mornings.  But sometimes, I pack up the craziness that is my life and tag along to drive the pick-up or tractor for Mr. Rancher.  And then I take pictures of the cute girls while he throws hay off the wagon.

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My girls couldn’t wait to see the cows in the morning.  There were more than a few mornings this year when they went feeding with Dad and left me home to work on grading or lesson preparations.  IMG_0010

On this day, Henley wanted to find “her” cow, Agnes.  She was brave enough to walk through the herd only while holding Daddy’s hand.
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This one is my favorite.IMG_0021IMG_0022IMG_0023

Alas, Agnes has been with the other cows long enough that she wouldn’t let Henley get close enough for physical contact.  Poor girl had to settle for saying “hi” instead.IMG_0027

This view has always been the best part of our winter ranching operation.  Sadly, we won’t see it next year as we are moving to a new feed ground.  I had to get just a few last-year-pictures.IMG_0068IMG_0070

And the calves.  Oh the baby calves.  They are precious and sweet and cute and fast little buggers to catch with an eartag gun in hand.IMG_0077

And the pregnant mamas are so…well…so round.IMG_0082IMG_0083

With the adorable calves comes the responsibility to tag each one, for ease of identifying who belongs to whom.  IMG_0091

Here is photographic evidence that Mr. Rancher, the well-known pushy and demanding boss, drops the eartag gun too.  Just like the rest of us peons he has to work with.IMG_0092

He still gets the job done faster than anyone else though.  Our friend put it well last week, “he’s one of those people who is just good at anything physical the first time around, what a jerk wad.”  This isn’t Mr. Rancher’s first round of tagging calves, but he is naturally gifted when it comes to any sort of physically demanding work or play.

I am not; therefore, I sit on the four-wheeler and do not attempt to catch the skittish calves or pierce their ears while their bovine mother is snorting and stamping the ground not five feet behind me.  IMG_0093

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I love this picture series.  It shows the true nature of calves.  Curious and inquisitive at first.IMG_0098

Ehh…a little unsure as the humans get closer.IMG_0099

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Whew.  I wasn’t scared.  Just a tad wary of people.

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Arizona Trip

We went on vacation!!!  Sometimes it feels like we never do anything cool or interesting or out of the ordinary for us, but last weekend rocked that notion right out of our lives.  We took a weekend trip to Florence, Arizona and had the best family vacation ever!

We left our house at 5:15 AM which means we were all awake by 4:30 AM.  Yuck.  Becca and Ty thought this was a great arrangement while Henley and I dragged ourselves from one task to the next with little enthusiasm and some puking from Henley.

We picked up Grandma and Grandpa Hawkins and Aunt Lexcie and headed to the airport.  Allegiant airline flies from Boise to Mesa on Fridays and Mondays for about $100 roundtrip, so we were able to travel very cheaply, but the only baggage we were allowed was one backpack per person.  I even surprised myself with how efficiently we were able to pack, and since we stayed with family and had access to their laundry rooms we actually over packed for the weekend!

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As you may well know, we try to limit screen time around our house in favor of free play, reading, and spending time outside.  That being said, I loaded our iPad with shows and games for our flights.  Wouldn’t ya know that my girls were not satisfied with the iPad?  Thank goodness for a well stocked snack bag and a seemingly endless supple of stickers.  We also brought silly putty eggs which were excellent for Mr. Rancher, Henley, and me to mess with but a bit too messy for Becca.

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When we arrived in Mesa, the weather was 45* and rainy.  Not exactly what we were hoping for from Arizona.  Luckily, the weather cleared by the next morning and we were able to spend most of Saturday on the four-wheelers (or “quads” if you’re from Arizona).

Mr. Rancher and I drove together on a four-wheeler and our girls rode in a Polaris Ranger with Grandma and Lexcie.  Our entire relationship can be traced back to two four-wheeler rides and it was a little romantic and a lot of fun to be able to cruise around, sans little children, and go a little crazy.  Here’s our token selfie!

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We drove all over the desert and saw so many cactus.  The Saguaro cactus are huge!  I fell completely in love with the Arizona desert.  Mr. Rancher and I have since had several very serious conversations about uprooting our ranching operation and moving it to Arizona.  I think we’d better visit in July to see the full scope of life in the desert though.

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Miss Henley jumped on with us about halfway through the drive and loved the four-wheeler.  While the Ranger is safe and a great way to haul a lot of people over rough terrain, it can’t compare with the freedom, speed, and overall excitement of riding a four-wheeler over the same country.  Henley found her inner daredevil on this trip and rode on the four-wheeler as much as possible.  Becca did as well.  Our girls love to be outside, exploring and having adventures.

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The destination of our Saturday ride was the “Trestle” or a railway bridge that spans the Gila River.  Ty and his cousin Kyon had to show off their carefree spirits and climbing ability by scaling to the top of the bridge and giving all of us a mild heart attack.

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Here we are at the mouth of a train tunnel.  We tempted fate and walked through the dark tunnel to the other side, just for the heck of it.  It is an active railway, though not frequently used.  I was nervous walking through, but did it to prove I wasn’t a wimp.

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Isn’t the desert beautiful?  The two weeks of rain leading up to this photo certainly helped!

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On Sunday we went to church with Ty’s aunts/uncles/cousins then headed back out into the desert to visit the historic Coke Ovens.  We weren’t able to make it all the way there due to some tire trouble, as you can see below.  We were lucky to meet someone with an air compressor in the back of his vehicle.  And no, Ty is not peeing in this picture.

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Henley and I took advantage of the tire issues and snapped a sweet-matching-pink-jackets selfie.  I borrowed the hat from Ty’s cousin Kaden to hopefully spare my forehead further sunburn, and Hen and I rode with loose hair on Sunday.  We were dust and mat covered by the end of the day, but we looked cute for the photo-op.  Miss Becca took a nice long nap from the time we arrived home from church to the time we returned from our ride.  She was wiped out from two days of traveling and adventuring.

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Henley spent most of the day on the four-wheeler with us and had a great time.  She and I hiked around a bit during our lunch break too.  She loved Arizona and the focused quality time with so much family.

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Alas, day two did not end as well as day one.  Mr. Rancher’s and my four-wheeler died a few miles from the pick-ups and we had to be towed the remaining distance.  It was a dusty and embarrassing ordeal.  Our faces, hair, and clothes were full of Arizona dust by the end of it.  Ty’s aunt Krista was nice enough to get a photo documenting our humiliating ride back to the trailers.

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We spent Sunday night at Uncle Phil’s house in Queen Creek where we celebrated Krista’s birthday, had a family home evening of ten-or-so families.  Our friends Matt and Liz and their girls were able to drive over from North Phoenix to have dinner with us.  Henley loved seeing the familiar faces of Amelia and Addie while Becca and Audrey spent the whole night tackling or putting each other in head-locks.  Just as soon as we could pry on off the other, they would jump right back into their wrestling match.  After a while, we mostly just left them alone to sort it out.

Always the showoff, Mr. Rancher decided he couldn’t leave Arizona without a swim and jumped into Phil’s freezing cold pool.  He and Tanner cannonballed and slid down the waterfall slide repeatedly to prove their toughness and unflinching sense of fun.  Henley and Becca both wanted to jump in, but settled for dipping their feet into the cold water.  After we made it home, Krista texted me this photo.

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She had told us how dirty and gross their pool was, assuring us that we weren’t missing out on anything by not being able to swim since it was so cold outside.  Ty, of course, had to prove her wrong and swears he enjoyed his frigid swim in what he called a “clean pool.”  Well, apparently there were seven other creatures who were in that same water…glad I didn’t jump in.

We loved our trip to Arizona!  Not only was the scenery absolutely gorgeous and the four-wheeling exhilarating, but the family we met and got to know better were so hospitable and fun to be around.  We are so grateful for their hospitality in driving us around, housing us, feeding us, and allowing us to use the machines and fuel to explore the beautiful land.  They were excited to meet us (or get to know us better) and made every effort to welcome us into the family.

Henley already has plans to return to Arizona, especially to play with Paisley, a “new” cousin who is just three years older and sealed the deal of their friendship with a flower-necklace.  Mr. Rancher and I already have more concrete plans to go back to Arizona next year, or sooner if we can find the time.  I know I’m repeating myself, but we loved our trip!  It was relaxing, rejuvenating, and unifying for our family.  It was just what we needed amidst this incredibly busy and demanding time of mom being busier than ever, banking renewals, tax filing, and anticipation of a year’s worth of hard work waiting just around the corner of the next rainstorm.

We love Arizona and our Arizona family.

Papa Chandler

I make big promises and commitments to this blog, then life happens.  A very real and tender part of life happened these last two weeks as Ty’s maternal grandfather, better know as Papa, passed from this earth.  Papa was an integral and powerful person in Mr. Rancher’s life and his passing, while peaceful and necessary, was difficult to go through.  Ty was quite close to Papa and will miss him terribly.  We are thankful to know that this is not the end, that Papa is feeling better at last, and we will see him again someday.

I was privileged–and elected–to write the obituary and life sketch for the funeral.  Ty delivered the sketch and added some of his own personal stories to his talk.  He did a wonderful job speaking and gave a great tribute to his Papa.

Here is a copy of the life sketch, which is all the recreational writing I have managed over the last few weeks.

George Lawrence Chandler, better known as Laurie, was born on January 31, 1932.  He was the fourth child of Vernon and Naomi May Chandler.  He was born off of Ripple Rd. in Annex, Oregon.  Naomi often said that Laurie cried the whole first year of his life.  Vernon and Naomi’s children, in order of birth, are: Thelma, Frank, John, Laurie, Eldon, and Jean.

When Laurie was four years old, his parents bought their ranch on Monroe Creek just North of Weiser, Idaho.  Vernon and Naomi raised their family at this ranch as well as crops and cattle.  Laurie and his brothers, Frank and Eldon all helped their father with the work on the farm as well as custom farm work throughout Weiser.  In between Laurie’s Junior and Senior year of high school, he and his brothers were running a mobile hay baler, one of the first in the valley, when Laurie was caught under the wheels and run over.  He spent the whole summer in a full body cast, which was removed the day before school started again.  Papa always said this was when he knew his mother really loved him. Papa had one leg shorter than the other thanks to this accident.

Laurie attended school at Eastside School, Weiser Junior High, and Weiser High School which was then held in historic Hooker Hall.  He graduated from high school in 1950.  After high school, he was drafted into the Army to serve in the Korean War.  He served as a cook for two years.  Papa loved to talk about his time in the army and the people and cultures of Korea.  He was proud to have served his country, but did not want any recognition for this service.  Papa was a true patriot who felt his duty to his country very deeply.

After returning from the army, Laurie served a two year mission for The Church of Jesus of Christ of latter day saints in the Midwestern United States.  While on his mission, Laurie bought his first car, a gray Hudson Hornet which he used for missionary work and then drove home to Idaho.  Papa was so proud of this car.  He enjoyed his mission and the time spent serving the Lord.

Laurie met Zelda Ruth Froerer in 1958 on a blind date.  He knew he wanted to marry her after three dates.  Ruth took a little more convincing.  They were married on March 11, 1959 in the Idaho Falls Temple.  They drove the Hudson through California, Nevada, and Arizona for their honeymoon.

Laurie and Ruth began their married life on Monroe Creek and started to farm and run a Holstein dairy.  On January 19, 1960, their first daughter Cary Jill was born followed by Kimberley, Casey, Sue and Jennifer over the next nine years.  Laurie, Ruth, and the kids all worked together on the farm—there are pictures of babies on the feed wagon and cattle drives.  Laurie loved working with his children and grandchildren.  He would often say “come on kids, we’ll be back for supper.”  Papa was a hard worker and a very strong man.  He was 6’4” and spent most of his days scooping silage by hand, pitching hay by hand, and harvesting crops by hand.  He couldn’t stand to be idle and worked long hours every day.

Laurie loved agriculture of all kinds.  He worked in a feedlot in Payette scoopin’ silage in order to pay for his mission.  He helped his dad raise Hereford beef cattle and farm hay crops.  He ran his own successful dairy that milked 100 Holstein cattle and produced the hay and feed for the dairy on his farm ground.  Papa was especially proud of agricultural advancements and technology.  He started out with horse drawn hay mowers which then had to be pitched into wagons and the dumped into loose hay stacks.

It was a proud day when he bought his first tractor, an Olliver.  I remember bringing home my first GPS tractor a couple years ago, and showing it to Papa.  He was so amazed by the GPS system and controls of the tractor that really showed how far farming had progressed since his childhood.

Papa used horses to feed his cows in the winter.  He loved to ride horses as well.  Some of his favorites were Zephir and Bingo.  He also had a team of Welsh ponies, Star Fire and Red Cloud.  Papa made a small cart for these ponies to drive in parades.  I know I learned to love horses and respect their usefulness from Papa.  He always said he loved to ride because it made him feel young again.  He said “a horse makes me feel like I have fresh legs under me again.”

Papa loved riding out at the River, gathering cows with me and Casey.  He would tell Casey that the ride out was great, half of the ride back was great, but that last quarter of the ride was AWFUL!

Laurie was a committed member of the Church and held most positions within the Church.  He could see the hand of the Lord in all the nature around him.  He was fascinated with how the natural world worked and produced so much good for all of us to enjoy.  Papa was a deep thinker and always had deep questions about how the world was formed.  How the hills and valleys came to be and how the cows were able to take something so simple as grass and turn it into milk or prime beef.  He liked to have these deep conversations while riding horses together.  Laurie did not like to hunt, but did like to take pictures of wild life and ride in the hills to see nature in its raw beauty.

Laurie was also active in the Farm Bureau and served as the president of Washington County for several years.

Laurie did not like to travel or be part of large social events.  Nannie swears he was always late, on purpose, for Relief Society dinners or parties she wanted to attend.  While Laurie didn’t like travel, he supported Ruth traveling and helping the kids with 4-H projects.

Papa’s greatest accomplishment was the family of five children, 17 grandchildren, and 25 great grandchildren.  Papa liked to tell his grandchildren stories about his life and was a great storyteller.  He said “a story’s no good if you don’t add a little to it.”  He loved to weave humor into all his stories and embellish the details just enough to make them interesting.  All of us here today have stories about our time with Papa.  We know he loved us and loved to share time with us.  Even the babies know that they were special to Papa.  Papa was one of those men who loved babies and would help with all their care.

He was a great example to all of us about the importance of hard work, persistence, good humor, patriotism, family, and faith in Jesus Christ.  May we all do our best to live up to his legacy and love.

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After collecting memories and stories from family members, this life sketch was pretty easy to write.  My only regret is that it was written after Papa was coherent enough to talk about his own life.  It would be nice to hear directly from him, what his greatest accomplishments were and what he most wants us to remember about him.

Perhaps life histories and life sketches should be written before a person is about to leave this earth.  I can imagine a person’s reticence to writing their own obituary/life sketch, but perhaps if viewed more as a life history the process could be an enjoyable and rewarding one.  And what a legacy to leave for future generations!

Busy. Busy-er. Busy-est.

Will life ever slow down?

I’m beginning to think the answer to that question is a big, resounding NO!  Remember that post about graduate school ending and the chunk of time I was sure I would have, but also sure would be filled in no time flat?  Yeah, that chunk of time never appeared, and here’s the story behind its absence.

I submitted the final draft of my 40-page written project, about giftedness and its impact on childhood development and adult success, on Monday, December 3, 2018 and on Tuesday, December 4, 2018 I received a text from an instructor at the local community college asking me if I would be willing to teach one of her classes during winter quarter.  That’s right, approximately 24 hours after technically completing my graduate work, I was offered a job teaching which is exactly what I wanted to do once I finished my education, albeit not that soon.

After a very busy and very enjoyable holiday season, I met with the social sciences department chair, Jessica Breidinger, and began preparing to teach Psychology 202, the middle quarter of introduction to Psychology.  My preparations were a bit sporadic and naive, as I really did not know what was expected of me.  My position is as an adjunct with the understanding that the full-time professor will return to teaching as soon as some medical issues are resolved.  Now, I am three weeks into this job, and today I’m tired.

Teaching twice a week at community college has been challenging for me and for my family.  Actually, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday are all hectic around here since I teach Tuesday and Thursday and have Young Women’s on Wednesday night.  Thankfully, winter is the slowest time of year for Mr. Rancher and he has REALLY stepped up his home-making and parenting game.  He hurries out the door each morning to feed the cows, then does whatever other work needs doing on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, or Saturday or comes home to tend kiddos and keep laundry/dishes/meals under control.  There is absolutely no way I could be teaching without his full support at home.

Teaching is…. a lot harder than I anticipated.  It’s also very fun.  I am grateful for this chance to learn how to teach effectively (nothing like hands-on learning, huh?) and to be mentored by Jessica.  I am trying to better my lectures, examples, quizzes, and classroom interactions every day and feel like this week has been better than the past two.  At the same time, I am feeling very tired by all the demands on my time right now.  I know everyone is busy, but I do feel like this job has tipped my scales of energy vs. exhaustion in favor of exhaustion.  Who knows what the future will bring, but I do think I am going to transition to online adjunct work, which will allow me to work from home and eliminate commute time, in the future.

Shoot, right now all I want to do is curl up and take a nap.  Maybe when Spring Break rolls around.

Until then, I’ll try to get pictures updated from the last two/almost three months.  Happy New Year!

Playgrounds for Farmers

My children love the park as much as the next kid, but what they don’t realize is that much of our daily life on the farm/ranch is a playground.  Our latest favorite toy is our nicely tarped silage pile.

My girls have climbed the pile of chopped corn countless times and ran or slid back down.  It’s a never ending source of fun and excitement, what with the baling twine trip-wires scattered all over the tarp.

We are very aware of the blessing it is to living our agricultural lifestyle so filled with fun, adventures, and memories.

Riggins Life (at home)

My girls and I took a nice leisurely walk–at the pace of Becca’s short legs–down our road to the stop sign and back home again.  We nearly made it to our driveway when both girls wandered into the barrow pit at commenced digging and sifting through the dirt.  My attempts to entice them back to the road and back home were largely ignored.  I found myself a nice broken piece of concrete, downloaded the latest episode of the Read Aloud Revival Podcast, and plopped down to observe the playing and catch up on some listening.

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Amid Sarah Mackenzie’s voice, I could hear snippets of my girls’ conversation.

“Becca, isn’t this just like Riggins Life?”

“Yeah.”

“Riggins Life is the best life, huh?”

“Yeah.”

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Apparently playing in the dirt is something unique to Riggins Life.  I guess we need a sandbox.

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The Ending of Graduate School

Sometimes I really worry that my children are not learning enough or receiving enough attention from me.  This past year of graduate school has been especially demanding, and increases in outside-of-the-home-obligations like storytime, Joy School, Sunday School teaching, Relief Society, and the ever growing ranch have really drained and depleted me as a wife and mother.  We have spent much more time watching TV this year, and far less time reading together, playing together, assembling puzzles, or doing something science-related.  I have changed from the kind of mom who limited screen time to one hour per day maximum and read one hour per day minimum to my children, to the kind of mom who allows a lot more than one hour per day of screens and sometimes misses a day of reading to my kids.  That’s hard for me to type!  I really have skipped days of reading anything with my children, and skipped even more days of reading anything that was not scripture with my kids.

Now, believe me, I am aware that my children are very, very young, and that there are many more days, weeks, months, and years for them to learn and become well-educated human beings.  But the reality is that my identity as a mother is one of reading aloud every day, playing with play dough (or something similar) every day, and being totally present and engaged for some period of time Every. Single. Day.  So to admit that I have not been that kind of mother for many, many days over the past year is the admittance of my own failure to live true to who I am and who I want to be.

Alas, graduate school is nearly complete.  I am eight solid pages into writing my forty page thesis and enjoying every moment of the writing/researching process.  I much prefer writing-heavy coursework than reading-heavy coursework.  Not that I don’t love reading, but I really, really love to write.  But I digress.

My point is that graduate school is almost over, and with it, the stress of splitting my attention 5 million different directions is almost over as well!  Sort of.  You see, I am no stranger to the phenomenon which occurs right when you complete a big project which has consumed hours and hours of time.  Upon completion of said project, you should now have hours and hours of free time, right?  Nope.  Not even close.  Something, somehow always sweeps in and fills that time, in a matter of moments one big project is traded in for another.  So while I am not counting on magically transforming back into Super-mom, reading hours a day from classics, baking cookies weekly, and teaching my children Latin, Spanish, and French before age five, I am thrilled to have my attention  and my precious early-morning and nap-time to use for pursuits/rejuvenation other than graduate work.

And do you want to know something utterly mind-boggling???  Not all the changes and shifts from my self-imposed Super-Mom requirements have been negative.

What?  My control-freak, self-exhausting tendencies don’t make the world go round? Ha.

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For example, my busyness has led to more independence from my girls.  Becca has learned to be quite content thumbing through picture books all by her little self.  Henley has learned to “read” books to herself and to Becca, to peel carrots, to make chocolate milk, to set the table, to tend Becca while they are playing outside, and to do about a thousand other chores around the house.  And, probably my most favorite, Ty has stepped up his game as Daddy and secondary educator in our family.  Here he is teaching Henley how to make a collage and keeping Becca entertained with some light paperwork.

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I cannot express how happy these photos make me.  I am so happy that even though Becca is not receiving the same focused attention, reading, teaching, and guiding that Henley received at that young age, she is still ridiculously advanced, precocious, and in-love with books and learning.  I am amazed at Henley’s growth since she became a big sister.  She is a very capable little girl with a wonderful imagination, deep mind, and overwhelming intensity for her passions.  IMG_6290

Most wonderful of all, Ty and I are more united in what we want from our family.  He has been incredibly supportive all throughout school, and he was the one who encouraged me to keep going when I really wanted to quit.  He has learned to read stories to the girls with all the right voices and inflections to suit their particular literary taste.  He has listened to endless soliloquies about child development, and even longer rants about stress and exhaustion.

So many things about the past two years have been very hard and very discouraging.  I have learned things about myself that I would honestly rather not know.  And I’ve learned some things which amaze and inspire me.  However, the principle lesson I have learned is that my family is full of remarkable people.

Also, I’m no Super-Mom and life is better that way.

New Traditions: Family Home Evening

Our primary takeaway, as a family, from General Conference is that we need to hold Family Home Evening once a week.  This is not a new admonition, or better phrased invitation from the Prophet, but it is something we have struggled with and largely ignored in our home.  Still, in an effort to show our children that we follow the Prophet’s counsel (really the Lord’s counsel) both Mr. Rancher and I have tried to incorporate one evening a week of learning the Gospel of Jesus Christ and fun as a family.

Here is our first attempt at such a night.

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In preparation for FHE, I printed copies of our family mission statement, purchased red marking pencils and small spiral notebooks, and assembled the aforementioned with scriptures, regular pencils, and the framed copy of our mission statement and motto onto our kitchen table.  Ty conducted and assigned Henley to say our prayer and selected a song for us to sing.  I then jumped in with our lesson on what it means to be part of the Ty, Rachel, Henley and Becca Hawkins family and we read through and discussed our mission statement and motto.  We read a scripture in Mosiah (Book of Mormon) about families and ended with our motto (Hawkins Have Fun!), prayer, and playing outside and a movie.IMG_6244

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We’ve met for one more FHE since our first and it was a smashing success as well!  A few things I attribute our success to:

  1. Ty (the father) is totally on-board and co-operative.
  2. I (the mother) take primary responsibility for planning and teaching the lesson, with the support of Ty.
  3. Everyone has their own materials.  Becca spends FHE chewing on her pencil or ripping pages from her notebook, which I’m fine with.  So long as she sits at the table for the fifteen minutes and is quiet, I don’t care what she’s doing!
  4. We eat something very simple for dinner.  To date: ramen noodles and frozen pizza.  Both are kid-friendly, easy-peasy to make, and quick to clean up.  Mama has to have energy and pep to make FHE successful and nothing drains those faster than cooking and cleaning.
  5. We only meet for 15 minutes of formal learning.
  6. We spent a month developing our mission statement.  It is a process and doesn’t happen overnight.
  7. We admit that we are trying to form a new habit and commit to listening to the Prophet’s counsel.
  8. Everyone can contribute and all ideas are treated as valid.  Henley taught FHE this week, on the 10 commandments, and had some interesting commentary on why we shouldn’t steal…but it was her lesson and nothing she said was false doctrine so we went with what she had to say.
  9. It’s fall-time and Ty is able to be home in the evening.  No joke, FHE will be much harder in the summer.
  10. Heavenly Father is blessing us for making this offering of our time and energy to follow Him.  We don’t have it perfect yet and are still very new to this whole thing, but I know He has blessed us for our efforts thus far.

Playing in the Water 2018

We love playing in the water.  I think I said that once already, but it bears repeating.

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These two photos are from a trip up to Mundo Hotsprings in June.  We went to check a river crossing and portion of fence Mr. Rancher was building in preparation to the arrival of our cows.  We brought swimsuits and played in the shallow, warm water of the Weiser River.  Isn’t the picture of Henley amazing?!  My mother-in-law took it with her iPhone, I love how clear it is.  And I really love that mop of curly hair on one of the happiest girls I know.

The girls and I played near the shore, in the very shallow water until Ty finished his work, then we all swam/floated down the river to the dam.  We ran into a family of four otters on our way.  They were wildly entertaining to watch swim, dive, and chase each other around the river.

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These next photos are of our favorite vacation destination: the Salmon River in Riggins, Idaho.  We spent six (I think) weekends here rafting, playing in the sand, and checking out the Seven Devils.  Henley repeatedly declares that “Riggins life is the best life” and I think we all agree.IMG_6042IMG_6040IMG_6024

We finally convinced almost all my side of the family to come rafting with us!  As expected, everyone had a blast and can’t wait to come next year.  Also, they are all aware now that Mr. Rancher is NOT shy or quiet or nice like he may seem.  Once you get to know the “river Ty” you know the real Ty.  He’s fun, wild, crazy, full of energy, relentless in his teasing, and the life of the party on the rafts.IMG_6011IMG_6009IMG_6045

My girls do not go down the river on rafts yet as Henley is afraid of the big water and Becca hates wearing her life jacket for very long.  Luckily, Riggins is home to lots of sandy beaches.  They are content to stay on the beach playing with the sand and rocks for the entire day it takes to raft the river.  Grandma Hawkins helped them build this dragonfly out of the river rocks.

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Cousins are the best.IMG_6172

Hen trying to chop wood.  Poor girl has inherited her mother’s talent for handling an ax.IMG_6171

We also ventured up to Lost Lake, on what appears to be the smokiest day of the year.  I can’t wait to go back next year, when hopefully there is not a raging wildfire in the area.  The last and surrounding scenery were beautiful and perfect for paddle boarding.

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Becca is such a champ on the paddle boards.  So long as she is with me.  She doesn’t like the water with anyone else.

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Thank goodness for Aunt Lexcie who helps with Henley or Becca whenever or wherever we need her to.IMG_6182 (1)

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We even scored some child-free time on the paddle boards!  Not a regular occurrence, nor do I want it to be, but fun every so often.IMG_6177

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