Working Cows with Pre-schooler and Baby

I can’t believe this happened with baby #2!

Henley did this as a baby…

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at right about the same age too.  Something about that playmat I guess.

Back to present day, Becca was just so tired she had to snag a nap right before we piled in the car to go help Ty give our calves their second round of vaccinations last Saturday.  Henley rode with Grandma Hawkins to help gather the cattle while Becca and I walked around.  Miss Henley decided that cutting cows was too jolt-y and joined us for our walk.  We visited the pack goats that live at our new corrals (well the new-to-us-old-corrals that are on the new place we rent along the Weiser River) and climbed over every single fence on the place.  Henley is big enough to climb over the fence all by herself, as she repeatedly told me when I offered my hand.

She also learned how to do this…

go through the gate…

push it closed…

and latch the chain!  Never forget to close the gate!  I am surprised daily at how grown up and responsible my Little Miss is becoming.  I notice her development even more now that I have the fairly helpless comparison of Miss Becca.  It is so nice that Henley can do more and more for herself without my help and she is so engaging to talk or play with.  On the other hand though, she is getting to be a little sassypants too.  That is definitely one perk of the tiny baby stage, they are generally sweet little things.

Becca hung out in our Lillebaby carrier (the best thing ever!) all day, except when she needed to eat, and loved it.  This is the only way I can convince her to snuggle with me.  Thanks to our baby-wearing success, I was able to help give the vaccinations by filling the shot guns and mixing the vaccine.  Henley was eager to help give shots as she is now “big enough” at least by her standards.

After all the calves had their shots and had been returned to the pasture, I decided to test the abilities of my Lillebaby to the max and got on a horse.  I’m happy to report that it worked beautifully and really was comfortable for me and Becca.

We are trying to find some free time in the next two weeks to go riding as a family.  I’m a little surprised at how much I liked riding, even for ten minutes, with Becca.  It is so important to me that my kids see me doing things, especially ranch things, that are maybe not the most convenient or easiest things.  I want them to remember their mom being part of the ranch and for them to be part of the ranch from a young age.  For women who grew up riding horses or working cows this may not be as much of an intentional decision as it has been with me.  Since I am still a fairly novice rider myself, and not the most comfortable around cows, it definitely takes effort and a steeled commitment to leave my comfort-zone and let my children take part in this lifestyle and join in myself.  I can honestly say that over the past four years I’ve come to love this way of life and I’ve gained a huge sense of accomplishment from Henley’s comfort and love of animals and agriculture.

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Little Cowgirls

Hello there!  I wanted to pop in and share some of my favorite pictures of my girls.  This is Henley circa 6 months old.  She loved this little rocking horse when she was tiny and still loves it now.

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This is Miss Becca at 10 weeks 1 day.  Same outfit as Henley at 6 months.  Sure, the outfit is a bit looser on Becca, but really not much!  She is ginormous!  Don’t get me wrong, I love her and am not at all concerned about her size (if I’m being honest, I am actually proud of it since I am breastfeeding her and man oh man it’s a lot of work so I appreciate seeing it pay off on the scale) I just can’t believe she is so big! Or maybe Henley was so little?  She was always in the 75th or 80th percentile during her first year…Becca is in the 95th for height and weight though.

It looks like she’s ready to jump off the horse and wrestle that steer to the ground!  She’s definitely the right body type to be a bulldogger, or steer wrestler for those of you non-ranch people.  Okay, I’m done with the fat comments.  Promise.

Size aside (hehe) I think I have pretty cute kiddos.  We have been having so much fun lately reading Little House on the Prairie, playing Candyland, having cooing conversations, walking, playing in our tent, and  having tea parties.  I’m trying to get as much uninterrupted and quality play time in the next two weeks before my classes start again.  While I am excited to keep progressing through my masters program, I am freaking out just a bit about making it fit with two kids and housework and marriage and church service and cooking and showering and exercise and friends and family time and mom-time and book-keeping and sleep and sanity.

I’ll let you know how it goes!

P. S. Did you take a close look at the horse?  He has been well loved the past three years.  His diamond is pink rather than white, his mane has been pulled, brushed, and cut, and his halter now has an attached lead-rope courtesy of Miss Henley.  He really is well-loved.

Tummy Time 2.0

My babies are pretty much polar opposites on every count.  Baby Henley loved to be held all the time.  Baby Becca likes to chill on a blanket or in her bouncer chair with you nearby, but doesn’t want to be held constantly.  Baby Henley slept through the night maybe twice before she was a year old.  Baby Becca has slept through the night a couple times and is starting to wake up only once, at about 4 AM to eat then right back to sleep (Hallelujah! And I probably just jinxed that).  Baby Henley was horrible at breastfeeding, Baby Becca has been a champ from day one.  Baby Henley was petite compared to Baby Becca, who is now close to 13.5 pounds.

But one thing these girls agree on is that tummy time is da bomb!

And doesn’t she look cute during her exercise???

The above picture is my favorite of the bunch.  I love the lighting on her face, I love her hair, I love this outfit, and I love, love, love her clenched little fists.

Here is Miss Henley taking pictures with me of her baby sister.  She loves to do what I do and loves Becca.  In fact she might love her a little too much.  We’re really working on gentle touch at our house.  I hope you all enjoy the very real and un-staged background that is my living room right now.  Henley was taking her baby dolls on a camping trip.

Baby feet! Precious =)

Still beautiful, still precious.

Still so serious.  This kid has smiled for me several times and continues to smile at her zebra and elephant daily, but for the most part she is a Serious Sam.  We talk back and forth and she has a content look on her face most of the time now that I’ve ditched chocolate (I was in denial for seven weeks that my beloved treat was causing my baby’s reflux…bad mama over here!) but she just won’t smile very easily.

And here you see how much she hates this Boppy pillow.  I bought one on the advice of a friend who swears that her baby loves this pillow for naps, play, rest, eating, the works.  Yeah, Becca hates it.  In fact, today using it for tummy time is the first time ever that she has laid on it without screaming, as you see pictured below.

Henley, on the other hand, adores this pillow.  She sleeps on it during her “camping” trips, watches movies on it, and reads books to herself on it.  Yet another way my girls are opposites.

Becca’s Blessing

We blessed Becca this past Sunday.  It was a lovely day–before the awful smoke settled in.  Becca wore the same dress and headband that Henley wore for her blessing, only we could barely button the back of her dress.  She is so much chubbier that Henley was!  I don’t know if that’s due to Henley’s heart condition which gave her a slow start or to Becca’s incessant eating.  Maybe a bit of both?  Either way I love her chub!

Side note: I do not like this headband.  But I didn’t realize just how much I hated it until we had taken all of our pre-church pictures.  I think I did the same thing with Henley, put this headband on, decided I didn’t like it, and switched it out.

Becca really didn’t like her poofy dress.  She kept grabbing the material and scrunching her fists and face.  Beauty is pain, little one!

Grandparents from both sides and most of the aunts and uncles came to church with us to be part of the blessing.  It was all fun and games with cousins during sacrament meeting until some cousins brought out a picture book that Henley was convinced belonged to her.  Then the tears and screaming started.  She tantrumed through most of the meeting and Becca proceeded to cry once the meeting was over and we were trying to take pictures.  They are very good at the tag-team crying game, especially at bedtime.

This is my grandma, holding her youngest great-granddaughter.  Any day now there will be another, even younger great-granddaughter snuggle.  We’re all excited for my brother and his wife to welcome their first baby, who is now one day late.

Would you believe that as soon as we took the pretty dress off and traded it for a softer cotton one all the crying stopped?

Little people just don’t understand the importance of smiling for pictures…

Bath Time

Becca loves her baths.  She will sit in the water for a full twenty minutes without one squawk of protest.   

I think these pictures really show how chubby she is getting.

You can see her double chin, neck roll, the start of her shoulder roll, and the bicep roll she’s just starting to get.  If we had pulled the towel up you could also see the three almost four rolls cascading down her chunky thighs.

We barely made it through one box of newborn diapers and I don’t think we’ll make it through the two boxes of size 1 diapers we bought.  She fits into her 0-3 month clothes, but just barely.  I’m going to have to go shopping for clothes and bigger diapers for this chunky monkey of mine.

True to his ranching profession and the county-fair-time of year, Mr. Rancher tells me daily that we should enter me in a dairy competition for quantity and fat-quality of milk.  You can’t possibly imagine what a treat pregnancy, childbirth, and lactation are when one is married to a rancher (or I suppose a dairy farmer).

Becca Lynne Hawkins

I am so excited to introduce the newest member of my perfect little family to you all, welcoming Miss Becca Lynne Hawkins!

Becca was born on July 17, 2017 at 10:31 AM.  That’s right, her birthday is 7/17/17.  Same backwards and forwards.  I had an OB appointment scheduled for that day at 10:40 AM too, she’s a prompt little girl.

After going through a C-section with Henley, I was in no hurry to repeat the process, if there was no medical reason for it, and am happy to report that Becca was born via a very smooth and uncomplicated VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean).  Labor started around midnight Sunday night.  We stayed home until 3:30 or so, waiting to see if it was indeed real labor.  Having never felt labor or even a contraction with Henley, I wasn’t sure if what I was feeling was labor or just incredible pain due to something else.  Part of my confusion stemmed from the fact that every contraction was focused in my back rather than across my bulging belly.  When we made it to the hospital we found out that Becca was facing up which was causing back labor (which is way more painful and intense than regular labor…three nurses and various other moms agree with me on this point!).  Once we were in the car I realized that no matter what sound I made or how loud I was, the contractions were going to hurt, I went completely silent.  Ty had the audacity to ask me if labor had stopped and if we should head for home.  I told him to stop asking stupid questions and to drive faster.

My water broke on the way to the hospital and the contractions continued to be fairly regular and intense.  I couldn’t believe we had to determine whether or not I was really in labor before I could be admitted to the hospital.  Obviously I was in labor!  As soon as the nurse gave her stamp of approval I was admitted and an anesthesiologist called to give me an epidural.  Having an epidural placed, which requires complete immobility by the patient, was excruciating but the pain-relief was so wonderful once the medication started to flow.  We spent the next couple hours with my leg hoisted over an exercise ball in an attempt to get Becca to flip around.  At 9:30 I was fully dilated and we started pushing.  She did turn and my epidural did work so we had a relatively easy hour of pushing every couple minutes and then our baby girl made her way into the world, screaming her little lungs out.

While my recovery from her birth has been monumentally easier than my recovery from Henley’s, the transition to having two children rather than one has kicked my butt.  Hence, we’re almost a month into this adventure and I’m just now finding time and energy to write about it.

Henley has been the best helper.  She loves Becca and is very protective of her.  She doesn’t like other people to hold her baby and is quick to find a binky for Becca if she starts to cry.

Overall, Becca has been a great baby.  She does, of course, wake up every couple hours at night to nurse, but she’s pretty consistent with her bedtime, wake times, and nap times which makes life so much easier for me.  Thankfully she has slowed down on her eating, for the first two weeks we were nursing almost every hour for about 30 min.  That’s right, nurse for 30 min. off for 30 min. and repeat.

I feel like this picture really sums up how hard it is to accommodate a new person into the family…

She loves tummy time.  And she can roll over.  At two weeks she showed us that she can roll from her tummy to her back.  As much as I’d like to say this makes me happy and proud, it really doesn’t.  I wouldn’t mind having at least one child who is lower-energy or lower-mobility, but I seem doomed to have high-energy, early-developing little people.

Becca’s four-week check-up was on Monday.  She weighs 11 lbs. 2 oz. and is 22 in. long.  In case you aren’t a new mom and don’t have a good grasp of babies weight gains, she has gained a ton of weight since birth!  She dropped to 7 lbs. 14 oz. several days after birth but since then, she has been gaining a pound a week or about 2.3 oz. a day.  That’s a lot.  She is a great eater!

We love both our girls!  Henley loves being a big sister.  Becca really loves her mama, though she is starting to like big sister and daddy more too.  We’re adjusting to being a family of four and slowly coming back into a sense of normalcy around our house.

Summer Happenings

Summer has always been a busy time for the Hawkins family, but this summer has been especially hectic and full.  Obviously an active two-year-old, cows, a dog (who is temporarily crippled, more on that in another post), and a very pregnant wife/mother adds up to a busy household and lots of responsibilities, but that’s not all we’ve had going on.  You see, this year we have had the truly wonderful and incredible opportunity to increase our farming operation big time.  Like quadrupled, maybe quintupled the amount of acreage we farm.  In one year.  That means a quintupled amount of work for Mr. Rancher.  More ground working, more planting, more irrigating, more hauling, more marketing, more invoicing, more bill paying, more bank meeting, more away-from-home-and-family being, and more not-sleeping.  Henley and I have been on our own for most of the summer, and if we did want to see Ty we hauled lunch or dinner to the fields and drove the tractor while he ate.  So while we are all thrilled to have more ground and this chance to really grow our business, it has been a hard summer.

Ty being gone so much has really been tricky with the Little Miss.  We’ve had to get creative about family time and I’ve been solely responsible for caring for her.  Poor kid has been stuck with a largely pregnant mother all summer!  Even so, we have carved out a little time to have fun and make more memories this year than just working around the clock.

Here Henley is in her favorite dress, all ready to go to church.  She felt so fancy in her new shoes, poofy dress, and pigtails.

The Budweiser Clydesdale horses stopped over for a break in my hometown this summer and we got to see them!  They are huge horses and very friendly.  Henley wasn’t too sure about petting this guy at first.  I think something about his monstrous size put her off.

Okay…bragging moment right here.  Here I am 37 weeks pregnant and surfing on the Fourth of July.  If I’m being honest, I only managed to stay up for a few seconds but I did get up!

Mr. Rancher actually made it to the boating party–yay!–and totally rocked surfing.  And don’t even ask about the hat.  He has a weird compulsion that makes him wear it, all the stinkin’ time.

Miss Henley had a blast with her cousins, grandparents, and aunts and uncles.  Her she is chumming with my big sister Ruth.  I love this picture.

We have a very trendy (it’s funny to me that stock tank swimming pools are a trendy thing) swimming pool made from a leaky stock tank that we have patched up and added a filter to that we spend every afternoon in.  It’s been a life saver for me and Henley loves to play in the water.  If I could only keep the dirty cowdogs from jumping in every time they walk by it might stay clean a bit longer.

Muffins!  We’ve made so many batches of muffins and thrown basically all of them in the freezer for when Baby gets here.  Henley is a champ at using this old-fashioned egg beater to mix all the ingredients.  She is my helper–and she has gained enough coordination and focus that she really is helpful around the house.  From making muffins to sorting laundry, she helps me get everything done around here.

Another freezer item: homemade burritos.  Henley’s contribution to this project was eating half the grated cheese while I filled and rolled the burritos.  She’s a cheese monster too.

I sent this picture to Mr. Rancher partially to make him hurry home for dinner and partially to brag on my cooking skills.  Trust me, dinner does not always look or taste this yummy.

Thanks to all the snow and rain this year, the mosquitoes are horrible.  Wretched.  Awful.  They don’t care if you have insect repellent on every inch of your exposed skin.  They will bite through clothes and spray.  Since we have animals and plants and just the basic need to be outside every day, we improvised mosquito-wear from loose button-down shirts–thank you Mr. Rancher–and long pants.  Thankfully, our landlord came and fogged our yard last night and it seems to have cut the numbers down, at least for a little while.

Finally, I bought a paddle board!  I have wanted one for years and found a great deal on Craigslist so I went for it.  I am super proud to report that I can do it, even pregnant, and am actually kind of good at it.  Mr. Rancher prefers rafting.  He doesn’t do so well with balancing…but don’t tell him I said that!  Henley is great about riding with me, though she is still mad about the one time I fell off and left her alone on the board.  Even Bo has ridden on the board with me, though he really gets nervous the further we paddled from the shore.

All in all our summer has been a busy but beautiful one.  We’re all working hard to keep things going at home and on the farm/ranch.  Now if I could just have this baby, that’d be great.  I’m tired of not being able to reach my toes and being a human heater.  Henley is excited to meet her baby sister and has been practicing her baby-care for weeks now.  Ty is so over having a pregnant wife who is cranky a lot of the time (hey, it’s hot, okay? Cut me a break!) and the six pillows it takes me to be any sort of comfortable at night.

Hope you all are having a good summer!

Easter…In July

Hello there!  So nice to be with you again, after a long absence.  Maybe I should stop apologizing for my inconsistent posting and just accept the fact that it is impossible for me to maintain a regular blogging schedule?  It would take away the need to say “sorry” and attempt to explain just why my life is so hectically busy that I can’t even post a weekly snippet.

So moving past the guilt and embracing the craziness, here are the photos we snapped on Easter Sunday.  Our family-selfie before church.  I think we look pretty good!

And since I was feeling good about my outfit and size after church, here is a nice picture of my full-figure-pregnant-self.  Ahem…I no longer look like this.  My feet are too swollen to fit in those shoes, it is WAAAAAAY too hot to be wearing a sweater, and my belly is much larger.  Fourteen weeks of pregnancy tends to do that to a person.  

We had a lovely Easter spent at church and with family.  

As per nesting, I am cleaning out everything in my house, including the pictures on my phone.  These are just the first of many pictures and stories I would like to share with y’all before Baby arrives…hopefully soon!

40 Years

This right here is what 40 years of marriage looks like.

Actually, not entirely.  We’re missing 20+ people from this picture, but that was done on purpose!  We had an “adults only” family dinner to celebrate my parents’ fortieth wedding anniversary and decided to get a picture of all of us, since the last time this happened I was maybe 12 years old–not including family pictures taken at weddings and such.

We did a horrible job of posing according to birth order in this photo.  From left to right the order is: second, seventh, first, sixth, fifth, fourth, third.  Or by name: Annie, Rachel, Amanda, Kevin, Ruth, Dan, and Mary.  I think, actually I know, my parents are very proud of all of us, even if we can’t stand in line very well.  And I know that because they spent their special evening telling us how amazing all of us and our families are.  Those are the kind of people I am privileged to have as parents.

My siblings are also pretty amazing people.  We all live close enough to get together for family parties and such, but there is still a fun diversity that keeps things interesting.

And here is a picture of all the babies-to-be-born this year.  Can you tell who is due first???

It was such a fun night celebrating the huge accomplishment of love, perseverance, commitment, and dedication my parents have shown to keep their marriage full of romance and love and their family strong and happy.  We’re not a perfect family…but we’re all trying our best and working like crazy to make the most of our lives here.

Thanks, Mom and Dad, for your great example.  I hope I can have a marriage that is as happy and fulfilling as yours!

Second Birthday Photos

Speaking of tardiness…here are the photos from Henley’s second birthday, which occurred…ahem…in November.

Oh well, here is her chocolate, chocolate cake that I made for her.  I’m no cake decorator but I think it turned out pretty well for my lack of tools and experience.

Obviously it looked good enough to try immediately!

This happy girl received a rocking horse from me and Mr. Rancher and, almost as exciting, the balloons we blew up and scattered throughout the house.

She loves her rocking horse.  We named her Honey.  Henley has since added halters and bridles to Honey’s attire and is sure to tie her up every night to some sort of door handle or another.  She also has a basket in which she brings Honey grain or treats.

The balloons barely lasted the night.

Henley loved opening her gifts and all the attention from grandparents and aunts and uncles.

Finally, blowing out her candles.  It was a fun and perfect evening.  We are so lucky that Henley has so many people in her life that care so much about her.

We sure love our little girl!  Even if her mother takes six months to post the pictures of her birthday.  But here they are, and here they will stay for our wonderful record of our crazy and beautiful life.