Let’s Go Fly a Kite

We love to be outside.  Absolutely love it.  The one weather phenomenon that constantly foils our ability to be outdoors is the wind.  The wind is so hard to dress against and find enjoyment in.  But sometimes, just sometimes, we find ways to enjoy even the wind.

Like a few weeks ago when we went to Grandma’s and flew kites!  Remember the part in Mary Poppins when the children are trying to explain to their father that the kite got away and they were simply trying to get it back home but got lost in the park and that was why they ran away?  My wispy daughter Henley almost was carried away with the kite.  It’s so fun to see the wonder and amazement on her face as she experiences so many things for the first time.  Miss Becca was far more impressed with the barking dogs than the kites flying.  To each her own!

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A Little Imagination Goes a Long Way

Any guesses what game these girls were playing?

Pirates?

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Maybe busy housewives, who have their hair tied back so they can scrub floors, akin to the head-wear worn by pioneer women during housework (let’s face it, all these girls like to watch and imitate Little House on the Prairie)?

Nope.  These three were watching Tangled, the Disney rendition of the Rapunzel story.  All three of these girls wanted long hair just like Rapunzel, and they were the ones to bring me the scarves to tie on their little imaginative heads to make “Rapunzel hair.”  They alternated between watching the movie and running through the house as fast as possible to make their “hair” fly out behind them.  They even found small toy animals to tuck on their shoulders for their own version of Pascal the chameleon.

A little imagination goes a long way.

 

Library Trips

One of our very favorite activities is attending our small town library’s storytime.  Henley and I have been going to storytime since she was 13 months old.  We’ve become one of the regular “mommy and me” couples, and have passed the bring-your-toddler-to-storytime-or-pull-your-eyelashes-out-with-needle-nose-pliers-since-it’s-basically-the-same-amount-of-torture test.  As you can see below, Henley has learned to sit nicely by her friends and actually listen to the story.

She can also check out our books all by herself.  She pushes the heavy book bag over the counter, scoots a chair over, and hangs over counter to chat with the librarian as she scans the books.  It almost makes me a little sad to see how grown up my first-born is; then I am dragged back to reality by my second-born who is now capable and oh so willing to pull every single book off the shelves and drool on each one.  Each stage is fun, and I tend towards looking forward to each new one and the progress of the child rather than bemoan the fact that they can’t stay little forever.  Sure the little stage is fun and sweet and cute and doesn’t last forever, but the getting older (hahahaha as if three years old is “older”) stages are fun too.  And they open up a whole world of possibilities.  Like passing the torch of checking out the library books.  With each passing day, Henley is taking over more and more tasks for me.  Pretty soon I’ll be able to lay in bed all day, reading and napping while she runs the household…

 

 

Not likely, but it is nice to daydream about sleeping (haha).

Family Pictures

We took family pictures right before driving over to my mom’s house for Thanksgiving dinner.  It was a very foggy morning, cold, and clammy, but I think our photos turned out very well.  I am so in love with this family of mine.

Here is my big “number three helper.”  I tell her every day that she is my number one helper and she quickly corrects me, “I’m three!  I’m your number three helper!”  She is such a joy and challenge to have in my life.

Can I take a moment and give a shout out to her amazing, curly hair!  It is so beautiful, wild, and fun, just like her whole being.

Here is our best attempt at a family picture.  Babies and cameras have a love/hate relationship.

Me and Mr. Rancher.  I love this guy.  He makes my whole life better, busy, and beautiful.

Heehee.  If this isn’t the best picture EVER to describe my two girls, then I don’t know what is.  Becca is less than impressed with the camera-toting-mama trying to get her to smile.  Henley is a little ham as always.

Ah, there it is!  The most two most beautiful girls!

On to our little squirt.  This girl has been such a fun, challenging, and sweet baby to have in our home.  I smile as I write this, thinking back to the days when she couldn’t move from the location she was placed…oh the ease of caring for a baby that can’t crawl into mischief!

Me and my girls.  I’m the luckiest wifey/mama on the planet.  Even amidst the day-to-day struggles that come from this wonderful existence here on earth, there is so much joy and beauty in my life.  Though I tend towards despair and stress over the little things, when I step back and really take a good look at my life, I realize that I am so very blessed.

I came across a very refreshing and reassuring scripture yesterday, during one of my frequent “freak-out” moments, I would like to share it with you:

“And thus we see that the commandments of God must be fulfilled.  And if it so be that the children of men keep the commandments of God he doth nourish them, and strengthen them, and provide means whereby they can accomplish the thing which he has commanded them; wherefore, he did provide means for us while we did sojourn in the wilderness.” 1 Nephi 17:3

Oh how true this rings in my life.  I often feel like this journey to building a ranch from the ground up is a “sojourn in the wilderness.”  But when I really look at the journey, I can see that the Lord has indeed nourished, strengthened, and provided means for me personally, for my marriage, for Mr. Rancher, and for my family.  I’ve made a pact with myself and my hubby to make gratitude more of a conscious effort each day.  I would encourage each of you to do the same, the benefits are so worth it!

I hope you all have a wonderful day!

Christmas Letter 2017

I just found this little gem in my drafts box……So here is our 2017 Christmas letter….brought to you at the timely time of March 7.  I chuckled reading through this again, some of the facts have changed already!  For example, Henley is back to taking daily naps, Becca now weighs 20 lbs, and Becca can now crawl anywhere and everywhere!

I was inspired by my older sister who posted both her Christmas card and family letter to Facebook this year, due to the craziness and busyness of the season.  I’ve never done Christmas card or letters but decided to give it a whirl on my blogging platform.  Thanks for reading!

Ty rang in the New Year with load after load of hay hauled from Weiser to Fruitland, Idaho.  Thanks to the many feet of snow we were cursed blessed with last year each time he drove into a stack yard he had to put chains on the semi to avoid getting stuck.  Putting chains on and taking them off several times a day in -14 degree weather is something he hopes to never do again.  Once Ty made it through the freezing winter weather, he acquired two new farms which brought our farming operation to nearly 1,200 acres in size.  Add to that 150 cows and a 500 acre custom operation and you can begin to glimpse just how busy Ty has been this year.  He is leasing a brand new John Deere tractor and is in love with all the features and luxuries it offers. He continues to enjoy farming, ranching, and everything that comes with it.  He is excited for 2018 and the chance to improve and expand the farm/ranch even more.  He also enjoys cooking anything over an open fire or on a wood stove and is the designated steak- master.  He loves teasing his three girls and taking us on adventures.

I started working on a Master’s degree from Arizona State University in Family and Human Development in January.  I have enjoyed and detested the program at varying times throughout the year.  Homework during the summer is a real buzz kill.  Henley and I spent the first six-and-a-half months of the year preparing for a new baby and soaking up plenty of mommy-and-me time as well.  I bought a paddle board this year and am excited for summer 2018 when I can use it without a pregnant belly.  I have tried to dedicate as much free time as possible to reading this year; some of my favorite books from my 2017 reading include: Hillbilly Elegy, Caddie Woodlawn, A Wrinkle in Time, and The Trumpet of the Swan.  I love taking a walk every Sunday morning, completely by myself and spending the rest of my week with my family.  I have tried to integrate more service into my daily routine with the girls and love seeing Henley become more aware of the needs around us.

Henley is the same as ever, full of energy!  She is quite the helper, teaser, boss-er, and question-er.  She is beginning to write her letters and string them together to form words.  She loves to read to her dollies and to listen to books I read aloud.  She absolutely adores her baby sister and tells us daily that “Becca is fabulous!”  Henley turned three on November 28 and is determined to act older now.  She no longer naps and is learning to ride her new bike with actual pedals.  She has quite the imagination and loves telling us stories with made-up characters.  She also loves to swing and would spend all day every day on our new swingset if possible.  She continues to hate wearing pants and can often be found outside in a shirt, undies, and mud boots just talking to the guys.  She loves helping me in the kitchen and is perfecting the art of cracking eggs.  We love her precocious and vivacious spirit and pray daily for the strength to parent her.

Becca was born on July 17, 2017.  She has been such a joy to have in our family.  Her birth was smooth and uncomplicated, for which we are very grateful.  We still can’t believe she just had to be born in the very middle of the summer in the very middle of our 5-times expansion of the farm, but are grateful she made it here and is happy and healthy.  She is a big girl, weighing in at nearly 17 lbs and 27 in tall.  She thinks her big sister Henley is hilarious and will smile or laugh at everything Henley does.  Becca is a water baby and demands a bath every night.  She loves her daddy and is always excited when he comes home.  She is a great sleeper…except when she is sick.  She can roll over in both directions and uses her feet to scoot herself.  She sits up in her high chair and is trying very hard to like food.  She loves to nurse and absolutely refuses to take a bottle.  She also loves to blow raspberries.  We are so grateful for the sweet and happy spirit she is in our home.

As 2017 draws to a close we are filled with gratitude for the gift of our Savior, Jesus Christ.  Throughout this difficult and demanding year, we have seen His hand in our lives and felt of His love for us.  We wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!  May you all be blessed and watched over as we have been.

Cabin Fever

Anyone else suffering from cabin fever???  We’ve got a bad case of it over here.  The depressing thing is that thus far this winter we have had gorgeous weather.  We’re just coming out of a week with 50-60* temperatures!  And now the wind is blowing.  Like really blowing.  Try thinking of things to keep a three-year-old entertained after a week of playing outside all day long.  Nothing we could do inside would even compare to the theme park our yard has morphed into.  When the wind finally stops blowing I’ll take some pictures for ya.

The other day we were reading stories in the brief period after naps but before normal playing has resumed, and I thought “there are basically no pictures of me and my girls, I should take a selfie with them.”  And this is what happened.

 

 

 

Henley takes a bit longer to wake up and rejoin the world of lively, happy creatures than Becca does.

Miss Becca, always the Bo-lover, has learned a new trick.

 

The little stinker would belly-flop and “cheese” as soon as she spied me trying to get a picture of her awesome planks.

“Just chillin’, mom.”

“Oh, me?! Yes, I am the cutest baby ever!”

“Nope, I wasn’t just talking to my dog.”

“Listen, tiny human.  You must engage the core muscles.  Yes, engage the core muscles then push your tail bone to the sky.  Again!”

We went swimming at Zim’s hotsprings and had the BEST TIME EVER!  We love swimming in the middle of winter and playing basketball while in the pool.

And planking again.

Can you see her blurry curly-Q?  Henley simply can’t resist tugging on her hair every time she walks by.

Henley has taken to watching whatever hunting or cowboy-cooking show Ty is watching as a mechanism of avoiding bedtime for another ten or twenty minutes.  I think it’s the Daddy-snuggles she likes the best.

Here are the three 2017 babies.  Mercifully, there isn’t quite such a size disparity anymore.  Cousin Sarah is catching up in weight and Cousin Embree is catching up in height.  Obviously Becca is still the biggest, but she no longer looks like a giant-baby compared to her cousins.

I laugh whenever people tell me these two look “just alike.”  Baby Henley and Baby Becca may look pretty similar, but the three-year-old Henley and Baby Becca not so much.

 

And to wrap it all up, look at these curls!

I just stumbled upon the “Curly Girl Method” and am happy to report our success and relief at finding this info.  Seriously, if you have curly or wavy hair or a child that does, check it out.  It will blow your mind and totally change the way you think of curly hair.

Happy Valentine’s week, try not to get blown away in the gale-force winds!

December and January…

Ahhhhhh the sweetness of the holidays.  They’re full of family, driving, delicious food, and short on sleeping, cleaning, rest, and boredom.  Then January rolls in and the daily grind picks back up even more intensely than before.  In my household this is due to the resuming of graduate work, tax preparation, budgeting, and meetings with bankers, landlords, and accountants.

Here’s a look inside the window of our life.

Bo is the best dog.  The best dog ever.  Both Henley and Becca pull on him, squeal high-pitched squeals which certainly can’t feel good to his ears, and generally make themselves a nuisance to him.  But he bears it all with unfailing good humor and love.  Becca followed Bo all around the room, tugging on him anywhere she could reach.  He eventually just laid down and placed his head onto her belly.  I think he was hoping to keep her in one place and was resigned to his fate of being used as pull-squish-chew-kick-slap-squeal-ride-toy.

Here he is again, playing the pillow for Miss Henley.  Working on Daddy’s schedule must be hard for a cow-dog as well as a cowgirl.

Here is Henley modeling some of her birthday and Christmas presents.  Uncle Tanner got the hat and stick horse for her and Aunt Lexcie got her the cow jammies.  She loves this horse.  And she loves her rocking horses.  And she loves her stuffed horses.  And she loves her real horses.  Horses of all kinds!

And little sister has to have a go with the stick horse.  Becca thinks her ears and mane are the best thing to chew on and run through her fingers.

Somehow I missed sharing this picture months ago, but this is how much of our days were spent during the October and November months.  Becca’s head was developing a flat spot from always sleeping in the same position.  The cranial specialist told us that her flattening would repair itself with more time spent off the back of her head.  So I became the tummy-time drill sergeant.  Henley was my happy helper.  I am amazed each day at how much Henley has fallen in love with her baby sister.  Not once in the busyness and stress of adding another member to our family has she disliked or complained about having her sister.  She may fight against me, or whine to Ty, but she doesn’t place any blame on her baby.  I’m so very grateful for her bond and attachment to Becca.  And for Becca’s attachment to her.

Along with her sister-ing skills, Henley has discovered a new talent…

Don’t ask me how she does it, I’ve tried and can’t do it.  She’s got a special talent!

I’ve made time to make homemade bread several times this last month, and that means making time to grind cups and cups of whole wheat flour.  Henley usually helps me with this job but she was helping feed cows so Becca had to step up.  The ear muffs are for muting the high-pitched whine of our wheat mill.  She didn’t mind them for about fifteen minutes, then she was done, done, done.

Oh these dresses!  My mom bought these as Christmas gifts for my girls and they are adorable!  I can’t tell you the number of people who commented on how cute they were for three Sundays in a row.

This misshapen doll was a project my mom and Henley undertook together.  I do believe I cut out the pattern when I was nine or ten.  My cutting skills obviously needed some improvement.

Here’s Miss Becca in her jammies from Aunt Lexcie.  The jams remind me of the long red underwear worn by the characters in old Western films.  Straight outta Mama’s saloon, drunk on milk!

Oh boy.  When big sister is away, little sister will play!  Henley bought this princess castle off of Craigslist with some of her Christmas money.  She is pretty good about sharing with Becca, but doesn’t usually let her have free reign with the entire castle like this.

We had a fun day of sorting, counting, and more sorting of our calves a couple weeks ago.  Becca and I stood outside the pens counting everything as it ran through the chute.

Henley used her sorting stick to help push the calves through the chute.  She had her first experience of being yelled at by the boss (aka her daddy) and the hired hand (aka her uncle Trayce).  Both times she was left in a puddle of tears because she “knows what she’s doing!” and she “did it like that last time!”  I had to reassure her that Daddy does really want her help while also teaching the lesson that when it comes to working cows, Dad’s instructions are the law and are to be obeyed when he says and how he says.  She pulled herself together and rejoined the work with a little more respect for what Ty instructed her to do.

Here we see the daily phenomenon of “Disneyland Dad” making his way into the house after a long day of work.  I spend all day, every day with my girls and make every effort to create enjoyable, educational, loving, and secure lives for them.  But the second Mr. Rancher walks through that door, it’s as if I don’t exist.  He strolls in, throws the baby around for a few minutes, lets the pre-schooler ride on his leg around the living room, and in less that ten minutes he’s like Santa Claus.  Moms just can’t compete with the roughhousing fun dads so naturally bring to the household.

Literally can’t compete, my 19 pound baby is hard to throw around very much.  I use up all my strength just toting her around the house and dancing “my sillies out” with the three year old.  Thank goodness for Daddies.

We’ve been practicing letters and rudimentary spelling for several months now, and just bought a magnet board to make use of our fun magnetic letters and numbers.  Becca even joined the fun, she made quick work of scraping all the letters from the board and onto the floor.  Babies are just so tidy and neat, aren’t they?

Henley was aghast at first, then she plopped herself down and proceeded with “this is A, this is H, this is Q, this is W…” as she replaced the letters.

*Ahem* there is a serious aversion to pants plaguing our house.  It’s been going on for about a year now.  I’m not sure what to do about it.  For now, I’m content to keep it contained to my house so long as it doesn’t spread to public places.

And look what we have here!  Another mischievous baby rolled and scooted right over to her dog.  Bo knows he’s been caught playing with the baby again.

As always, we’re a very blessed bunch.  We hope the same for all of you!

Morning Cuddles

My girls love their morning cuddles.  Henley now pushes me aside to be the first one into Becca’s room in the morning.  She scrambles over the crib-side and snuggles in right next to Becca.  I have a nest built out of rolled up flannel blankets that keep Miss Becca cozy and secure during the night, Henley decided that this nest is not acceptable while she is trying to spend time with her sister.  Every morning she throws out the rolled blankets, unwraps Becca from her swaddle, and places her arm tenderly over Becca’s chest.

“Good morning, Becca.  How are you today? Did you have good dreams?  I’m so excited to see you this morning.  What are you telling me?  Is it hard to wake up?”

I don’t have any pictures (or video) of the girls in the crib, just these of them in my bed.  I love, love, love that they love each other.  I love listening to Henley talk to Becca and seeing Becca watch her sister’s every move.  I’m convinced these two are going to be best friends some day.

What It’s All About

Two weeks ago we were able to tour the Meridian, Idaho, LDS temple.  We made it just in time to take a tour before the temple was closed for cleaning prior to the dedication.  We’d been busy running in ten different directions at once, then sick with the stomach flu, and barely made it through the nausea to come to the temple with our girls.  At the end of the tour there was the opportunity to take pictures with the Christus and outside of the temple.  Henley, of course, was out of sorts at being woken up so early and repeatedly told to “shush” that she absolutely refused to smile for our pictures.

At least she looked at the camera for the outside photos.

As I reflect on the experiences I’ve had in the temple, I am so touched by the gift of knowledge that God has given me.  My brother lost his youngest son in a 4-wheeling accident last Friday.  This tragedy has shaken me personally and my family as a whole.  The death of a child is never easy to pass through. I spent much of last weekend running through what I thought I believed, over and over again in my head, just to make sure I really believed it.  I do believe in life after death.  I do believe that children who die before the age of 8 are taken directly back to our Heavenly Father.  I do believe that families can be together after death, through the incredible blessing of temple sealings.  To be sealed in the temple means a husband and wife and their children can continue on as that family unit, even after death.  I believe people who pass on without accepting the gospel can be taught and given the chance to accept it after death.  Their sealings can be completed here on earth in temples through proxy ordinance work.  I do believe these things, and I can’t imagine my life without this faith and knowledge.

My nephew David was a sweet, remarkable boy.  He gave hugs to anyone he met.  He was very intense, he went full-speed in whatever direction he was headed.  He showed love unconditionally and made friends everywhere he went.  I believe he is doing these very same things now, just on the other side.  I believe he is with my grandparents who passed away before him.  I believe he is still here, helping to guide, encourage, and strengthen my family.

My brother and his wife and two other children have decided to choose joy every day and leave a legacy of light to honor their son and brother.  I am trying to be more like David and take every opportunity to say the good things I am thinking, to tell people I love them, to give compliments, to stand up for truth, to give hugs, to really express my emotions rather than bury them.

I was honored and privileged to present David’s life sketch at his funeral.  I wrote the sketch/obituary on Sunday afternoon and woke very early Monday morning to mull over what I’d written.  As I was reading, I became a tad overwhelmed and decided to take a break and browse my pictures that needed to be uploaded to this blog.  I came across these of my family at the temple and simply couldn’t get past them.  This is what it’s all about.  My family, at the temple, with the opportunity to be together forever, even through the pain and anguish of death.

I don’t know what you readers, the few of you besides my family, believe.  I’m not telling you that I have all the truth or that I believe my church or my faith is the only one with truth.  I am telling you what I believe to be true.  I hope you will take a moment and ponder on what you believe the meaning of life is and on how well you are accomplishing your personal mission in life.  If there are things you need to change, change them.  If there are questions you need answered, seek out guidance.  There are countless people who would be happy to help you on your quest to find God and help you discover the joy that comes from knowing Him and His plan.  Again, I believe there are many religions or faiths that can help you answer these questions.

We’ll miss David.  Every day there will be something that reminds us of him.  I know my brother and his family have the hardest road to walk, much more so than I do.  I am amazed at the strength, faith, and grace they have shown since David’s passing.  My brother spoke at David’s funeral, about his choice to choose joy over despair and love over bitterness.  My sister-in-law sang beautifully about the gift Christ has given all of us, because He loves us, and the amazement that the God of heaven and earth loves us all so much that He took upon himself all our sins, pains, and afflictions.

God really is merciful.  Christ really does give us grace.  The Holy Ghost really is the comforter.  Family really is the most important thing.

 

Halloween 2017

Halloween was super fun this year.  We got loads of candy, had fun dressing up as pumpkins, and had ourselves quite the scare by a headless horseman at one of our stops.

Henley had a hard time settling down after seeing the headless horseman…he’s been instructed to dress up as Hey-hey or Olaf next year.

As usual (at least usual for last year and this year) Ty wasn’t home to go trick-or-treating with us.  Last year he was hunting, this year he was picking up a load of seed in Utah.

We took all these pictures to flood his phone so he wouldn’t feel left out.

I sure do love these little pumpkins of mine.

Becca especially liked our stop at Nannie and Papa’s house.  She talked with Nannie and smiled at her and Papa the whole night.

She and Papa have a special connection.  Papa cried for the first year of his life and Becca cried for the first three months of hers.  Now she is a smiley and very happy baby and I think Papa is much happier too!