Summer Days

Ohhhhh summer.  Long, hot days with so much potential for fun.  This summer has been our best yet, what with two wonderful kids who are finally starting to play together (hallelujah! hallelujah! hallelujah!), round two of farming/ranching in the same location, and five years of marital bliss (at least more bliss than contention!) under our belts.

Here’s a look at our summer so far.  My mom gave us the very best gift, water toys!  The girls play with them every single day.img_5852-1

Henley waiting for me to get Becca down for her nap, so I can read and cuddle with her.  She’s been making her own bed and folding her own clothes this summer…it’s a work in progress.img_5849

Brushing her own teeth (this picture is for you Mary) and post-bath curls.  These are the very best curls and thanks to our bathing schedule they only come out an hour before bedtime.img_5845

Curls, curls, everywhere.  I’m even starting to see some waves and curls in Miss Becca’s hair.img_5848

My serious, opinionated, daring and determined second-born.img_5796

She likes to scale the slide backwards, turn around, sit down, and slide.  Then repeat.  This picture was taken earlier this summer, closer to ten months of age.  Now she’s walking everywhere, almost a big one-year-old, and even more determined to do what SHE wants, when SHE wants to do it, and how SHE wants to do it.img_5790img_5787img_5781

Building fairy houses and eating sticks.  It’s about balance.img_5783

Our two kitties blessed us with eight, yes EIGHT, kittens right at the same time.  img_5779

We’ve been able to pawn off five of the balls of fluff so far and are enjoying the remaining three.  Anybody want a kitten?  I can promise they will be good mousers, their mamas bring in at least three mice a day!img_5778

This umbrella has been used for everything from boating to housing this summer.img_5751-1

Hee hee…when sisters do your hair…img_5764

They built this fort all by themselves while I was on the phone with my mom.img_5766img_5776

I guess they kinda like each other.  Makes my heart happy.



The following is my final paper written for my Diversity 598 class required for my masters program.  Excuse the formal tone and academic citations, this is a blog after all, but I hope you’ll enjoy this memory of a very precious and intriguing experience I was able to have.

The assignment was to experience a person or culture which is different from my own, to really step outside my comfort zone and become more familiar with diversity in action.  After the experience, I was assigned to write a paper describing the event and relating it back to the content studied throughout the course.

I chose to attend a Friday service or Jumu’ah at the Islamic Center of Boise and interview one of the female members of the congregation for this assignment.  Initially, I considered attending a Catholic church in my small town which offers meetings in Spanish, as I do not speak Spanish fluently, but I was already familiar with the Catholic faith and the congregation and really wanted to step outside my level of comfort for this assignment.  Having been raised in small-town, rural, United States, I had never met and rarely seen any Muslims in person.  I was thrilled to be able to attend the Friday meeting held on June 8, 2018.

Prior to attending services, I was extremely nervous concerning what I should wear and how I should move through the building and church meeting.  I contacted the center via email and was referred to one of the older female members named Dalia.  Dalia instructed me to wear modest clothing and to bring a head scarf for the meeting.  She invited me to come a little early to the meeting, to stay afterwards to discuss beliefs with her, and to participate in the evening meal to break the fast as my visit fell on the second to last day of Ramadan.  I invited my sister to attend with me, and we had several conversations and internet-searches between us as to what was appropriate to wear and do during a Muslim church service.  We were both very afraid of offending the members and of doing something inappropriate out of ignorance.

Once we had our head scarfs properly situated, we entered the center after removing our shoes and were greeted by Tyler (he has chosen to use an Americanized name) who is a refugee from Africa (he did not specify which country).  He shook our hands, a gesture I waited for him to initiate thanks to the work from Al-Mutawah (2016) and introduced us to Dalia.  Dalia led us into a room separate from the men and found us seats near the back so we could view all the proceedings.  She provided us a brief outline of the service and left us to pray and socialize with the other women.  We viewed the imam leading the prayers and giving the sermon on a large television screen.

There was a mixture of African and Middle Eastern women and several adorable babies participating in the service.  The African women, as explained later by Dalia, were primarily refugees from various countries and cultures.  As Mutua (2016) explains, I as a member of the host community held pre-conceived ideas of refugees as desperate, impoverished, and potentially harmful.  What I actually encountered were mothers, much like myself, who struggled to keep their small children content and quiet during worship services. The small children drew shapes in the carpet when they were bored of the sermon.  Much of the sermon was difficult to understand as well as all the prayers as so much of the language used is Arabic.  We were unsure of what to do during the prayers and chose to stand with the congregation once then remain seated for the duration.

Afterwards Dalia, my sister, and I discussed what we had experienced and Dalia answered questions regarding her faith as well as her culture.  She shared with us the story of Muhammed as well as of Abraham and Ishmael from the Islamic perspective.  We discussed the dress and health code, religious obligations, family dynamics, contraception, education, prejudice and politics.  I have a follow-up appointment with Dalia to discuss more questions which came up after I had left the center, we will be talking on the phone on June 26, 2018.

This experience was completely new, intimidating, exciting, and eye-opening for me.  I understand on a deeper level why Delgado and Stefancic (2001) as well as Chin and Rudelius-Palmer (2010) focus on storytelling and actually experiencing diverse peoples and cultures as the only true way to practice inclusion.  I understand the Muslim religion and culture far better than I did before this experience, and have the beginnings of a friendship with Dalia.  I will admit that I was nervous and fearful about attending a Muslim service.  I was concerned I would be offensive in some way or seen as an ignorant and materialistic westerner.  My pre-conceived biases stemmed from nothing other than snippets and pieces of news headlines that mainly centered on terrorism and Muslim extremism.  I was so unfamiliar with Islam that I was a little fearful to attend the Jumu’ah. What I encountered in the Islamic Center of Boise and in the individual Dalia was completely different from anything I had learned through headline news.  The story of Dalia and her culture have indeed brought understanding between two cultures: mine and hers (Chin & Rudelius-Palmer, 2010).

I plan to join the Muslim community and my new friend Dalia for a day of Ramadan next year and also plan to attend the Jewish Synagogue in Boise; the comparison of Christianity, Islam, and Judaism is just too tempting to resist.  Kahil (2016) states that “The more people travel, establish diverse friendships, and experience the richness of each other’s cultures, the less likely they are to bomb them (p. 338).”  Not that I have ever wanted to bomb anyone, but I have found that the more diversity I experience, the more diversity I want to experience, which is how I interpret Kahil’s (2016) words.

This experience with Islam and Muslim people has forever change me and the way that I view the world.  There is a vast religion and belief system which I know little about and want to know more.  I realize now how lacking my understanding of politics and history is on this subject, and I cannot afford to simply rely on news headlines—highlighting conflict and terrorism—to shape my view of such a large portion of the world.


I did, in fact, have a follow-up call with Dalia on June 26 and was able to explore and learn even more about Islam.  Dalia is one of the most gracious women I have ever met and was so kind to answer all of my questions, including those which must have seemed very naive.  Diversity 598 has been the most difficult class thus far in my masters program, as it challenged me to analyze and question every belief or world view I possess and compare it with other’s perspectives and experiences.  This class changed my outlook and helped me to see there is such a vast richness of culture to be experienced and appreciated, even in my small community.  I loved this class and look forward to exploring and learning more about other cultures, faiths, and belief-systems in years to come.

Outdoor Art

“I’m going outside to paint all the colors of grass.”


“I’ll mix this one with this one…”


“Oopsey daisy, got some on my dress.”


You all spy on your children and eavesdrop on their talking-to-themselves conversations too?  Glad I’m in good company.

Here’s the finished painting, I’m going to call it “All the colors of grass ended up on my dress.”


Branding 2018

Branding the calves is always a great time of year.  There’s the mounted help, the ropers, the cowboys.dsc_0634

Annnnnnd there’s the ground crew.  That is, in fact, me wielding the branding iron.  This year I succumbed to the pressure to learn a job a swore I would never do, brand the calves with a searing hot iron.  Don’t get me wrong, I know it has to be done, I just don’t want to be the one doing it.  There’s something almost artistic in the way different ranchers approach branding their cattle, how they walk up, take their stance, angle the iron just perfectly, and press down, hold for a count, then lift up to inspect the job.  I am sure this year’s batch of calves are sporting the ugliest, most sloppy brands of any we’ve every raised.


When I mentioned the act of branding as a form of artistic display, Mr. Rancher replied that ear-marking was actually more of an art.  Strange to think of any sort of animal husbandry as artistic or creative…only truly amateur connoisseurs of art (such as myself) would think so.  Or perhaps I’m improving my ability to find beauty and grace whatever the situation around me, I’ll let you decide.

Either way, I really don’t want to learn ear-marking.  Which is why I will never voluntarily or intentionally carry a pocket-knife to a branding.


As you can see, our ground crew this year consisted of Mr. Rancher and a bunch of women/girls/babies.  My niece Megan was the best innoculator this side of the Rockies and asked a million questions about the cows and calves.  She’s fascinated with animals and a hard worker making her a pro-branding-hand.  My sis-in-law Lexcie, my branding bud for life, stepped in to help any way she was needed.  She’s a peach and always will be in my book.

Say what you will about equality of the sexes, females simply are not equipped to throw steers and heifers to the ground in the same effortless way males are.  Point of fact, I had to throw down many of our calves (another first time experience) and I was dog-tired by the end of the day, not to mention much slower and clumsier than my husband at the work.  Most of the time, Lexcie and I had to both work the calf together in order to get it secured on the ground, while Mr. Rancher handled even the largest ones all on his own.  True, my hubby is a manly-man and tough-as-nails and super-strong and a-really-hard-worker and all that masculine jazz, but you know what?  Lexcie and I are pretty tough too, and we still couldn’t keep up.  Next year, I’m advocating for more men on the ground crew!dsc_0643

Miss Becca was a champion branding-buddy for 3.67 minutes.  About as long as it takes to snap two photos in the melee of the branding pen.

Don’t I look like such a bad*** ranch mama?  It’s all a show, folks.  All a show.  This blog, though based on our real life, only shows snippets and snapshots, not the whole picture.  The reality is that my gracious sister spent most of the day caring for my baby and pre-schooler while I worked with Mr. Rancher.  There is simply no way I could have done both and I’m so grateful my sister was there to fill the gap.  She’s a good sport and a generous soul.dsc_0638

Here’s the kid-crew.  These monsters I mean munchkins had a grand day of exploring, playing, and even fighting.


My curly locks and cousin Cambree (in the red shirt) had a knock-down-drag-out-fist-fight over a football.  Neither girl was seriously injured, neither girl ended up crying, and neither girl was ready to stop the brawl until Grandma pulled the two apart.  Tough cookies that simply don’t have an ounce of “give-up” between their two little bodies.  They’re really the best of friends…and maybe it’s healthy to have a sparring buddy…ya know, to get rid of pent up aggression in a healthy, supervised manner…maybe???


At the end of the day, branding brings together so many people and requires input from everyone to get the job done.  Cowboys to rope, ground crew to brand, camera crew (Thanks, Liz!) to capture the memories, kids to entertain and teach, family to cook, help, care for kids, rancher to make the whole thing happen, and so on and on.

I sure do love my crew, cowboys, ropers, ground-workers, Mr. Rancher, sisters, munchkins, cousins, in-laws and all.  Don’t know what I’d do without ’em.

New Year (title from Jan. 2016)

Maybe I should clean out the drafts box on my blog more often.  Lookie what I found today that just gave my heart a chuckle.

It’s a new year and Henley is sleeping through the night!!!

I repeat: She is sleeping through the night!

It is such a wonderful feeling to get a good night of peaceful, restful sleep for the first time in thirteen months.   She is also starting to talk a bit more.  She’ll say no-no-no all day long, mainly because she does things she shouldn’t all day long.  On the upside of all the “no’s” and tantrums, Miss Henley has also started giving and blowing kisses.  Even while we are feeding the cows, she’ll lean up against the tractor window and send kisses to her dad while he flakes the hay off the wagon.

Winter is always slow and even a tad boring for ranchers.  Ty feeds the cows every day but that only takes a few hours and then there’s the rest of the fog-filled, cold day ahead…

Clearly, I trailed off elsewhere in my thoughts and never got around to completing this blog, but what a precious reminder of Miss Henley’s baby days.  Miss Henley had not once slept through the night before this post that was written January 2016 when she was 13 months old.  And the “no-no-no-no” chorus!  How could I forget that???  We’re heading down that same track with the alarming speed of a freight train as Miss Becca starts talking more and more and doing more and more things she shouldn’t.  Like throwing the yogurt carton out of the shopping cart causing it to crack and yogurt to splatter all over the grocery store floor…

Just as Baby Henley sweetened her attitude and willfulness with baby kisses, Miss Becca’s serious yet impish personality adds a touch of humor and wonder to her naughtiness that is irresistibly funny and exasperating at the same time.  Gotta love these girls.

I’m mentally preparing myself for the next  verse of the “no-no-no-no” chorus.

Daily Life

Just catching up on sharing some pictures over here…don’t mind me.  These girls keep me so occupied!  I was about to type “busy” but since reading a great book…I believe the title is Real Moms: Making it up as we go along (forgive me for not getting off the couch to make sure)…in which the author discusses the fallacy of busyness especially for mothers, I’m trying to avoid saying “I’m just so busy!”  Not that I’m not busy, because believe me I am (what with two kids, a business, graduate school, church, a house, a yard, ten cats, one dog, riding lessons, family, friends, etc.) but so is everyone else, and I am working on owning my decisions and allowing myself to be happy with what I’ve decided rather than just busy. 

Lately, Henley has been making huge strides in her development.  As you can see, she is mastering more and more penmanship skills.  She can now write O’s, 6’s, C’s, and B’s (which aren’t pictured).  And she’s been doing this without any instruction from me.  Self-directed learning makes me a happy mama.  Thankfully, she still wakes up after every night and nap with a lion’s mane of hair which reminds me she’s still my little-love.

We’ve been having regular tea parties with our gorgeous, china tea set.  We have tried milk with graham crackers, hot chocolate with cinnamon toast, and peach tea with buttered toast.  We’re not big fans of the tea…but the party is simply delightful.  Miss Becca has also made great strides in her development.  She’s mastered the art of horseback riding, so long as she’s on this tiny rocking horse.  What’s more, she’s perfected the art of unloading each and every piece of clean clothing from either the drawer, dryer, or laundry basket and depositing it on the floor.  Helpful little girl.

Sunday Shenanigans

Sundays aren’t always good days at our house.  We are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, LDS or Mormon church, and one thing we are working on as a church collectively and also as an individual family is keeping the Sabbath holy.  Basically this means recommitting to worship, family, service, and rest on Sunday.  It can be very hard to resist the urge to clean, catch up on book-keeping, work in the yard, or various other chores that need to be done.  Also, our cows and farm ground always seems to need extra attention on Sundays, something we are working on with more pro-active planning.  Our kids also tend to turn into emotional monsters on Sunday.  It’s also tremendously and ridiculously difficult to take a 3 1/2 year old and a 10 month old to THREE hours of church.

However, as we’ve tried (and failed oh so many times) to improve our Sundays, little by little we have made some progress.  And I think I’m starting to look forward to Sundays rather than dread them…

Sometimes we fail at Sabbath day observance, but sometimes we build tents out of sheets and pretend we’re camping on a beach before getting dressed for church.IMG_5529.jpg

Sometimes we take mommy-daughter selfies to document the real changes that are happening to make at least one of my kids look a little more like me!IMG_5540.jpg

Sometimes we all work together to have a fun and relaxing imaginary experience.IMG_5543.jpg

Sometimes we practice including others in the game, even little babies who don’t know how to play “right.”IMG_5562.jpgIMG_5565.jpg

Sometimes Mr. Rancher and I take some time to snuggle on a twin-size bed, tormenting and teasing our daughter that we’re stealing her room, blankets and all.  Sometimes we even plan our week in advance while pretending to be blanket pirates.IMG_5570.jpg

Sometimes we all cram onto a twin-size bed to take a family selfie.IMG_5575.jpgIMG_5578.jpg

Sometimes we build kites out of trash bags, sticks, ribbon, and tape and fly a kite before church.IMG_5595.jpg

Sometimes we enjoy the many hours we have before going to church at 1 PM.  I wish most of our Sundays were this fun-filled and rejuvenating.  I tend to whine and complain about the awful church schedule we have right now–1 PM to 4PM, which really means 12:30 to 4:30, which is so so awful for kids who usually sleep from noon to 3–rather than appreciate the time we have to playing, connecting, resting, and serving before church worship.  I can honestly say we are doing better with Sundays, but we still have a long ways to go.  I appreciate the lesson of resting and changing our focus for one day each week.  I know that when I’ve done Sunday right and tried to serve others, spend unconditional and unscheduled time with my family, worship and meditate and study, and simply rest from life’s daily demands, I am more effective during the upcoming week and the people around me feel loved and fulfilled.

Sundays are a gift.  A gift we really have to unwrap and dive into before we can appreciate its true worth.  In fact, if we don’t really dive into it, we can view this gift as more of a curse than a blessing (i.e. more to add to the to-do list, more requirements to be met) but that’s our own fault for only partially opening the gift the Lord has given us.