Roll on…

As Alabama’s “Roll On” began playing through the car stereo the other night, I tried to really listen to the words of that song. I know it, word for word, because the song has been on the radio longer than I have been alive. But it seemed to really hit home while my oldest child was sleeping after a long week at school and a complete and utterly embarrassing meltdown at daycare, and her little sister sat quietly next to her in the back seat, peering out the window into the fading daylight.

As I took a quick peek in my rear-view mirror, silent tears started streaming down my face as I realized how this song has become my family’s anthem.

Their dad  was still on the road, heading home from hauling cattle to the sale a hundred miles away for some good friends of ours. He’s been on the road for what feels like forever; in reality it hasn’t been that much, and he has been home at night more than before he became a self-employed trucker.

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Loaded up and ready to roll.

That said, it doesn’t make life in our house any easier.

The girls miss their daddy, and I do too. Not only do they tell me on a pretty regular basis, but I see it in their eyes that they know things are different. It is a strange thing for me, because my dad was always around growing up. The good thing is that it isn’t always this way.

I miss our semi-normal routine when their dad is gone; and although I maintain a pretty tight ship whether my husband is home or not, it is tiring to do it all alone.

I secretly worry every time the wheels on our truck turn. I worry he hasn’t had enough sleep, I worry about other drivers, I worry about the weather; even though I know my husband is more than capable to handle anything the miles under his tires might throw at him. Worry does no good, but just like a child, I can’t help but worry a little about him. I guess that’s what happens when you love someone a hell of a lot.

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I am blessed to have a man in my love that loves his family very fiercely.

I pray for the scales to be closed, yet I know and appreciate the importance the DOT workers do to keep all of us safe- no matter the headache it causes my husband and the other drivers we know.

I both despise the sound of the phone ringing, yet can’t help but wish for the work to steadily pour in. Sometimes I struggle to not tell the guy on the other end how self-absorbed he is, calling my house at supper time, asking my husband to leave his wife and kids; while I can hear his family in the background of the call. But the truth is that we signed up for this when we went into business for ourselves.

I hate when he is gone, yet sometimes (secretly) wish for him to be gone for a couple days; you know, so I can have some time to myself…

When he is gone overnight, I never sleep very well.  The kids hate the fact they don’t get to see their daddy in the morning, and the drama seems more constant. I know there are a lot of kids and wives that see their dads and husbands a lot less, and I don’t want to sound ungrateful- I admire the hell out of Shane for busting his butt day after day to help us chase our dreams. If it takes him being on the road, I guess the kids and I will keep on singing these words:

“Roll on family, Roll on along; Roll on Daddy till you get back home; roll on family, roll on through; roll on mama like I ask you to do, roll on eighteen-wheeler, Roll On!”

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To all you wives and mommas out there, holding down the fort; and to all you guys making a living on the road: God bless you. Thank you for all the work you do behind the scenes to keep America rolling on!

~Much love,

Richelle

A Simple Thank You

Sometimes, a simple thank you can go a long way.

Especially to a mom. Being a mother, like my own mom once said, “Ain’t for the faint of heart”. It is a relatively thankless job, very little pay, but has the best benefits of any career out there. So this year, I just want to say thank you to all the mom’s out there that have made me who I am today.

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I can't do a post about Mom's without some cows & calves peppered in!

None of them hear it enough. Mostly, because we are all so busy anymore with our own lives that we forget to tell our mom’s much more than the minimal details that happen in our daily lives. I know I am certainly guilty of leaving out the simple, yet important, things she needs to hear.

I rarely tell her how awesome she is. How proud I am of how she and Dad raised us. How much I admired her as a child for her strength, grit, and ability to be both a rancher and a housewife. I know she doesn’t hear it enough, because I don’t say it enough. I don’t tell her thank you enough for teaching me how to ride, how to drive, and how to cook. I haven’t told her thank you enough for not killing me when I broke her sewing machine. Or when I was a brat and argued with her over whether I should wear dresses or jeans. Or that time I told her I was going to Canada with my boyfriend when I was 18 and there was nothing she was going to do about it…

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Of course if she had killed me, she would have missed out on this. Photo Credit: Jim Potter Photography, 2006

My mom has always been my hero. She is artistic and creative. She is funny and sometimes a bit crazy. She has talents that I can only dream of ever having; mostly because she didn’t share her patience genes with me. She taught me how to ride a horse, how to break colts without getting killed, and proved to me that screaming while riding a run-away horse only makes things worse. She was the one that taught me to drive (while I admit that sucked for both of us, she survived.) She took me hunting, shopping, and instilled a love for animals and wide open spaces that I will never lose.

Growing up, my mom was a hard ass (or at least it seemed like it!). She wasn’t a pansy pushover- but I don’t remember necessarily pushing her buttons to a point of making her inner grizzly bear come out more than a handful of times.  ( I am sure she remembers it differently…) Of course I am sure it helped that we were scared to death of our dad, so she definitely only had to say “You better hope your dad doesn’t catch you doing that” and we pretty much quit doing whatever we were doing that was making her mad. Even though she might have been ornery at times, she never failed to show us how much she loved us, and never failed to make us feel special.

She is much more patient than I have ever been, and how she dealt with three kids and my dad and living on the ranch, I will never know. I always admired that my mom was always out in the thick of the work- of course she cooked and cleaned and did laundry and all those other motherly things, she also helped build fence, moved cows, worked in the branding corral, ran the baler, broke colts, and always stood right beside my dad. While she tends to opt for the role of babysitter these days, I would say she has certainly paid her dues as a ranch wife over the years.

Although we haven’t always agreed on things (clothing styles, and the virtues of raising chickens, just to name a few), we have managed to survive each other’s wrath’s to become the best of friends. We still don’t agree on everything, but at least we appreciate each other’s point of view a little better. She isn’t just my mom, she is my friend. I could never truly show her how much I love her, because you just can’t quantify stuff like that.

I am grateful that our girls have not just one, but two really awesome grandmothers that love them dearly. Which brings me to my other mom.

I am extremely blessed to have a mother-in-law who is also my friend. She has always treated me better than she probably needed to, and has always supported (most) of the decisions Shane and I have made. Not counting the time I talked him into rescuing a red Heeler puppy from the vet clinic I worked at (he still lived at home, and they already had two dogs- his mom was less than impressed with me at the time), we have never really had a tough time getting along. She is forgiving, kind, and funny, and I love that she shows real interest and cares about our agriculture lifestyle. Never one to be a pushover, I have admired her strength, character, and ability to stand her ground and do what ever the hell makes her happy. I love her now more than ever.

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When our first daughter was born. These two are the best grammys ever.

When we decided to start a family of our own, I wasn’t so sure I was going to hack it being a mom. I had no idea how to handle a newborn, but I like to think I  had  really great teachers when it comes to this parenting gig. Between my grandmas, my mom, my mother in law, and all the other great mom’s I have had the pleasure of knowing over the years, I guess I am finally starting to figure it out.

To risk sounding cliche`, being a mom has been the greatest thing that has ever happened to me.  It is the best job I never had to apply for, and the best present I never bought.  My daughters’ laughter is music to my ears, and there is nothing on this planet that compares to snuggling my babies and just watching them grow into beautiful, respectable little ladies. I love how excited they are to see baby calves, ride the horses, and ride in tractor with their dad. They may have changed my body in ways that will never be recovered, but they filled a hole in my heart I never knew I had. I never felt real, unconditional love until my girls were born. I know every mom feels this way- and what a great feeling to know!

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God blessed us with the greatest gift of all- unconditional love.

Happy Mother’s Day to all you mom’s out there. I hope you know how wonderful you are, and how much your children love you. One day a year isn’t enough to show you how much you are appreciated! After all, without your love and care, none of us would have lasted long with Dad. So, once again, thank you for loving your children- through all the blood, sweat, tears, dirty diapers, nagging, up-all-nighters, school plays, first sleep overs, first boyfriends (or girlfriends), inlaws, graduations, weddings, and everything in between- thank you. I love you.

Much Love ~ Richelle

{Disappointment} Means I Have Values

Someone once asked me if I thought I was setting myself up for disappointment by expecting so much from others. He also told me that I needed to loosen up, have more fun at work, and that I would be a lot more likable if I just wasn’t such a hard worker.

True story.

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Yep, true story.

While this particular conversation happened about a year and a half ago, it crosses my mind once in a while and makes me shake my head. He was a gem of a boss- needless to say he didn’t stick around much longer after we had this little heart to heart.  But he is not the point of this story- he could be so many people anymore.

Imagine his horror when I told him I am often disappointed by people- including him- because I was raised with an apparently naive idea that people should have to work for the things they want in life; that I believe that you have to start climbing the ladder from the rung closest to the ground.

That I am often disappointed by others who say one thing, and yet do the total opposite, or do nothing at all.

That I am often disappointed to be treated strangely by others because I come to work and, well, work. This is not to say that I don’t screw off my own fair share, but my work is done before I waste time on the company’s dollar. That’s my choice, and that is my responsibility.

If I remember correctly, he about fell out of his chair when I said I didn’t mind being disappointed, because that meant I still held true to my own values and that while he might not find me to be as much fun as a barrel of monkeys to be around, the feeling was mutual. Perhaps if we had more in common, or if he would have had an inkling of work ethic or even a little bit of motivation to do more than discuss football scores, we could have gotten along. Anyways….

After a very rare weekend spent helping my husband at home, getting to play rancher while my parents got to go on a mini vacation to a bull sale (Yes, going to a bull sale during calving season is very much a mini vacation for my parents), I had a good reminder that there is nothing wrong with being a hard worker and being a productive member of society. My husband was raised in town- his dad was a railroader and his mom worked at different office jobs through the years- and very easily could have refused to embrace my family’s lifestyle.Instead of denying me of living on our ranch, he has grabbed the bull by the horns and has become quite a hand. He is hard working, responsible, and respectful of my dad’s sometimes crazy ideas. He is patient, and to be completely honest, has taught me a few things about ranching that I never knew. I guess in my heart I always knew he had it in him; he proved me right and I love him more everyday for that. I love to be proud of others- it brings me so much joy to see others blossom and succeed.

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These guys. Both ranchers, two very different ways of getting here.

I wish more people were like him– willing to be a sponge, to learn everything they can, and to be the best they can be in the situation they are in. I believe that we can all do so much more than we think we can, and if the people around us expected even just a little bit more from us, we might try a little harder to exceed their expectations. But if no one expects anything from us, what do we have to prove?

 

Being raised on a cattle ranch taught me that actions speak louder than words. Hard work, hustle, and independence will take you farther than any bullshitting gene you may have been born with. My parents expected my brothers and I to help do chores, take care of our animals, and when it came to my 4-H animals, I was the one getting drug around the corral, not my dad. I had to do the ground work with my colt, had to teach him respect, and had to feed and care for him. I was the one getting up before school to feed my steers, and working with them after school and work so they wouldn’t stomp me into the arena dirt at the fair. And this was done all summer- not the week before the fair, like some kids I knew.

Unless I had to work in town, I was expected to help out at home- that meant either cooking meals, driving the grain truck for dad while picking bales, bunching bales for him when the truck broke down, or helping clean pens during calving. We were the “hired men”. Our wage was our meals, a house over our heads, and clothes on our backs. We fenced, picked rock, and had lots of “character building” opportunities. And looking back at it now, I am eternally grateful for all the blood, sweat, and tears we shed all those years. It wasn’t just livestock that we gave our attention to either. If we hunted, we walked our asses off to find, shoot, and haul our kill out. We helped mom cook, clean, and saddled our own horses. We had responsibilities, and though they weren’t always fun, they got done.

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Even pregnant, I worked my rear off for what I wanted.

I know not everyone was raised the same as me- and while I respect that and am okay with that fact, I have to accept that I will always be different than everyone else. I am okay with being the workhorse. With being the quiet leader. With being labeled the worker bee, rather than the social butterfly. I not only accept those titles, I embrace them!

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Embrace being different!

Someday, I will be back on the ranch- and am sure that wandering aimlessly through my days will not be on the agenda. The cows don’t care whether I was a manager or a janitor, as long as they get fed. My horse could care less if I used to wear high heels and rubbed elbows with “really important people”… she’ll kick me just the same I don’t put forth the effort to train her not to. You can play once the work is over- celebrating a job well done makes life so much sweeter!

~Much love, Richelle

Toilets, Children, and Road Trips

Being cooped up in a house for three days can make anyone go crazy. I am going to warn you now, if you have a queasy stomach, turn back now- while you still have time!

Add on top of that, two children with the flu and a husband that is busy calving/trucking/ finding any excuse to be out of the house, and what you end up by  the end of Monday night is a mommy with no patience and a possibly slight drinking problem.

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I feel a bit how she looks... like I just don't give a $*&#!

This story started Saturday morning, when we decided to take a trip to town to go find me a new oven. The local Appliance and Electronics store was having a great sale on everything in the store! And I had been dreaming of a new oven, since, well, we plugged in the hand me down oven from my grandma roughly six years ago. We got to the store about two hours later than expected, because we decided we should go for a road trip and let the kids take a nap in the pickup. After mud- bogging through the north country, we finally arrived at our original destination with two half-asleep kids that needed to pee like Thoroughbreds after a race. And that, my friends, is where the toilet part comes in.

My kids, at least since they have been potty trained, seem to think that public toilets are available in every building on the face of this planet. I have been in bathrooms in tiny little mom-and-pop shops, nasty gas stations, WalMarts, KMarts, sports warehouses, farm and ranch supply stores, craft stores, malls, doctor offices, hospitals, schools, restaurants, and outhouses along the way. Hell, we’ve even popped a squat on the way home in the middle of a snow storm when my oldest was first learning to potty train. It doesn’t matter if they down a Mega-tanker of milk or taste a drop of water- if we end up anywhere that may potentially have indoor plumbing (who am I kidding, they can’t even manage to stop at the corrals at my parents place without using the outhouse in the shop; clearly it isn’t a fascination with the flushing water that intrigues them), they suddenly have to go to the bathroom. I guess if you ever need a recommendation on where *not* to take your kids to take care of business, give me a call– I can probably help you out.

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I like these two a lot more when our day doesn't have to revolve around the toilet.

Anyways, back to the oven-shopping adventure- after about half an hour of “I reeealllyyy have to peeeee mommmmmyy”…. and the store staff being swamped, the children’s dad and I decided it was probably in the best interest of everyone involved that we leave and take these whining kids somewhere with a toilet. In an effort to minimize wasted time, we ran to the grocery store where they could finally relieve themselves, and we could get our groceries. Back to get the oven we went— of course this time, Dad went alone while I hung out in the pickup with his offspring. Not ten minutes into this, my oldest tells me she is about to get sick. All I can think is, “WTF are you going to puke into? There are no buckets, no bags, no nothing for this not to make a massive mess…” when I hand her a plastic grocery sack and say, “Good luck… please don’t put it around your face!” I know, Mom of the Year, right?? Good news is, she saved the vomit for a few hours. 2:00 in the morning, Sunday, to be exact; just as I walked into the house from my night-check of the cows, she lost it.  The flu had finally arrived.

Sunday was spent trying to recover from a crooked neck from sleeping on the couch with a sick kid. In between rocking in the chair and breaking in my new oven, the day turned out to be relatively uneventful until about 11:30 that night. I awoke to our youngest daughter telling me something in a language I don’t speak, and a hand full of barf. My kids have this very specific cough before they are about ready to toss their cookies- and there is nothing that will get you out of bed quite like the sound of a kid (or a dog, they are a lot alike) preparing to throw up. Needless to say I spent Sunday night sleeping on the couch with the kid between me and garbage can. Two nights on the couch my couch is torture (as if a sick kid isn’t enough…)

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See! They can't be trusted not to get crazy while mom slips into the shower...

By Monday, I was ready to go back to work. And you know things have to be bad for me to literally want to be at work. Laying around watching “Little Foot” for the 437th time was really starting to grate on me. At least the puking was done, but the trips to the bathroom only increased in number. Naps were no where to be found, even after playing outside for over an hour; and they couldn’t be trusted to lay in my bed and watch a movie together while I showered. I finally had enough after we ate lunch, and strapped them both into their carseats and headed towards town. The little one was asleep two miles past our driveway; but the kid that needed the rest was still going strong. Forty-five minutes later, I happened to look in the rear-view and she was mouth-open, head tipped back, snoring like a fat old man. Sadly, it didn’t last nearly long enough.

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Neener, neener, neener... who needs a nap?? Mom does! Mom does!

I will say, though, that for all the tears, anxiety, temper tantrums, and butt warmings, I managed to make it through their bedtime by myself. The walk to the corrals with a cold beer in my hand never felt so good; although I am pretty sure the bed that is currently calling my name is going to feel like heaven. I might even be looking forward to going to work tomorrow! (Hey, I said I might…)

Much love, Richelle

Thirty Years?!??

“The Thirties: Cut the Bullshit and Go Be Awesome!” ~ Olivia Wilde

I just celebrated my thirtieth birthday this week. Thirty years worth of watching sunrises, laughing until I cried, crying tears of joy and sadness, and just living and being. I have never been one to worry about my age- getting older has never been something that scared me or caused me to get all freaked out. Of course, I have never turned thirty before, either.
Truth be told, I had some reservations about this birthday. I always thought that by the time I was thirty, that I would have my shit together and have life figured out. I figured my lack of self- esteem would finally go away; that I could finally accept that not everyone is going to like me or understand me and that would be okay. I was sure that I would get over my social anxiety and awkwardness- that finally, I would be able to walk into a room full of people and find more than one person I could talk to. That I would finally understand what the hell is so entertaining about “The Bachelor”… apparently, I have yet to figure any of this out.

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Socially awkward, except with horses and dogs.

If being blond could be a full time, paying gig, I would never have to work another day in my life. Unfortunately for me, being awkward is an everyday occurrence in my world- I never quite what to say to other women when they complain about the chips in their nail polish and the terrible dye-job done to their hair, how to sympathize with their diet plans, or even how to wear girly clothes. I embrace my own style so much that I am rarely offended when people give me strange looks when I walk through the grocery store in boots and spurs, or when sitting down at a restaurant table covered in manure after shipping calves; but I still feel weird wearing a dress, leggings, and tall boots to work. Not to mention that I still can’t figure out how to wear infinity scarves or eye liner. Seriously.

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At least my boots are stylish...

And quite frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn. (If you don’t know what movie that is from, we can’t be friends. Just sayin’…)

The older I get, the more I realize that being a woman ain’t for the faint of heart.
That no matter what you do, you are going to step on someone’s toes and piss them off.
No matter how hard you try to fit in, there will always be people that judge the book’s cover and always treat you differently because they are too self absorbed to appreciate your differences.
That people will use you to fit their agendas– they will tell you they love you as you are, that they will always support you, and be there for you. Until they don’t. No one needs you more than when they have their own personal crisis and they think you can, or will, fix it. That might be why I like horses and dogs so much…
More importantly, though, I am learning that the best thing I can do- which is also the hardest- is to be myself. Every strange, awkward, quirky, crazy part of me is something that makes me exactly who God wants me to be right now. I have learned you have to love yourself first, because if you don’t love yourself, there isn’t anyone that will do it for you.

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At least my kids love me!

When it comes to motherhood, well, I have the combined experience of 8 years as a professional rug-rat-wrangler. I have learned you have to do what works for you and your kids. Who cares if you can’t breastfeed? Who cares if it takes forever to potty train your little ones? As long as you take the time to be present and be a loving, involved parent, it is nobody’s business how you raise your kids. Take the crazy and sometimes unwanted advice with a grain of salt and remember, kids don’t come with a manual, and there isn’t anyone that has this parenting gig figured out. Learn to have a sense of humor; and I have found that drinking (in moderation, mind you… hangovers help NO one!) also helps when your mini-me’s make you crazy.

Thirty years has taught me that the love of a good man is something to never take for granted. If he is honest, makes you laugh, makes you cry (in good ways- like he does romantic things like makes dinner once in a while, tells you that you are beautiful when you feel like a bloated sea cow, and stands beside you through childbirth), hold on loosely! Nobody likes to be nagged at, bossed around, or given an inferiority complex, so don’t be that way. Laugh at his stupid jokes, listen to his stories no matter how convoluted or boring they are, and share yourself with him. Life is better spent with someone who absolutely loves and lives for you. Reciprocate that.

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I love this guy.

At this age, good friends are hard to find. I have been blessed to rekindle old friendships with women that mean the world to me, and make new friendships with gals that are now like sisters to me. I have also learned to let go of people that never were friends, and to accept that you can’t put all the effort into a relationship and expect it to last. Be a good friend, and good friends will find you.

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Happy. Birthday. To. Me!

I never imagined that I would be celebrating my oldest daughter’s fifth birthday, my tenth wedding anniversary, and my thirtieth birthday all in the same year. To say that the woman I am today is very different from the woman I was ten years ago would be an understatement. In a lot of ways, I have gotten better- being a mom has made me realize there is more to live for than myself, and my heart has never been more full of love and pride.

I also know that time has jaded me- that having to go to jobs that I don’t care for, working with mean girls, and giving up a part of myself to raise my kids as best I can has changed me. And that is okay. As I enter this new decade of life on this planet, I realize that nothing lasts forever- all good things must come to an end, and yet the bad times never stay for too long. I hope that when I grow up, I will learn to love myself a little bit more. To stop using the F*bomb so much, and start smiling more. To find more humor in things that would normally irritate me. To learn to tell people to shove their self-righteous bullshit up their ass with a smile. To just enjoy my next thirty years- because I can’t believe how fast the first thirty have gone by.

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I hope I have many more sunrises to enjoy!

So to my next thirty years I say: bring it on!
Much Love ~ Richelle

Stop Trying to Be Everyone but Yourself

Confidence.
Morals.
Kindness.
Strength, character, and common sense.

These are words that, in my opinion, describe people from a different time; a generation of people that never knew what Facebook or “social media” was. A generation of people that worked with their hands and lived within their means. People that actually sat down at a dinner table and talked to one another. These words no longer describe most people anymore. Honestly; I see so many people that rarely spend time with their kids, that only talk about their spouse when they are fighting, and that spend more time posting about their last bowel movement on Facebook than they spend really living life.

What have we done to our daughters?  Girls are taught from the minute they can understand adults that they have to look cute, be sweet, and like pink, just so that they can get what they want. But then we spend so much time trying to make them believe they are better than boys; that they can do everything a man does and do it better. Women want equal rights, equal pay, equal everything— but get pissed when they have to work the long hours, do the heavy lifting, and not get a constant stream of “Atta boy”s from the boss. We want our women to be soft, pretty,  good wives and better mothers, but yet they still have to be able to “break the glass ceiling” and run the show. How many of you gals feel like you have to balance home life and work, and yet wonder how the hell you are going to make any of it happen?  I don’t think it is fair that we feel like we have to take care of everyone else around us, yet if we take five minutes to ourselves, the guilt is as bad as if you had started the neighbor’s house on file. We have to learn to let it go. We have to teach our daughters to take care of themselves, be strong, and if they want to be girly, know that it is ok. It is ok not to like jumping in the mud puddle; just as it is ok to wear jeans and t-shirts and not own a single dress. They aren’t boys; we have to stop treating them like they should be. Let them be who they want to be. If you want to shatter that glass ceiling, great! If you want to be a wife and mommy, or ride horses all day, or be a beautician, or a brain surgeon, do it! Don’t let others stop you from doing what makes you, you.

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Eating makes me happy. So I do a lot of that... I don't care what my haters think!

When a woman is confident, she can tend to come off as bossy or bitchy;  when a man is confident, people swoon over his swagger. Being confident has to start on the inside — instead of from the clothes and shoes covering our bodies. Sure, pretty undies help us feel sexy, and that in turn, helps us feel more confident… but why? Why does our confidence come from how we look? I don’t think it is right that when women are intelligent and work their asses off to prove it, that they are treated poorly for that. Guys, if you don’t like that a gal knows more than you do, that’s your fault… pick up a book and learn something- you can do it too!

Most of all, we could all do well to get off social media once in a while. Stop enrolling your kids in every sport or church-function all year long. Stop whining about how busy you are- if you are too busy to sit down and talk to the people you love more than through a text message, you need to change something. Just because you are “connected” to the world all the time doesn’t mean you shouldn’t unplug and see the world though your own eyes instead of a camera. Stop volunteering for everything so people will think you are a good person. Good people are good because they don’t toot their own horns, and believe it or not, other people see this too. Just do what makes you happy, not what makes you look good.

I hope you find peace within yourself, and learn to love yourself for who you are. Hell, I am pushing on the door into a new decade and there are a lot of days I have no idea what the hell I am doing with my life. I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. What I do know, though, is that I have two little girls that look to me for guidance, support, and love. I will do my best to be confident in front of them (even when my legs quiver with fear), to use common sense, and to be kind even when it is really hard. Because someday, they will be adults that will be trying to figure all this out- and I want them to have a headstart on being a decent human being. I can’t imagine what life will look like when they are my age, but I know that as long as their dad and I stick to our morals and values, they will be able to handle everything this great big old world throws at them. I hope you can too.

Much love ~ Richelle

To My Baby Girl

Dear Ainsley, 

To think that you are turning three years old makes my heart swell with pride, yet ache because you are getting to be such a big girl, so fast. The day you were born, I knew you would be the last baby we would ever have. You and your big sister keep our house full of love and laughter, and you keep your dad and I on our toes all the time. My life became complete the day you entered  this world; and you will be my baby until I leave it.

Everything you do is on your own terms- even on the day you were born, you had to be coaxed to join and meet the rest of your family. And you have been your own little independent person ever since. You have the sweetest smile, most adorable laugh, and just like your sister, are completely perfect. You have blessed this house with your wit and your energy, and your {mostly} agreeable personality. I hope that never changes.

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You gave your mommy a good scare the last month I carried you- from having multiple ultrasounds because the doctor was afraid you weren’t growing, to making delivery a literal hell; perhaps that I why I feel so close to you. You may have been and still are a little pipsqueak, but you have a big personality and aren’t afraid to use it. I don’t know if all first-born daughters are daddy’s girls, but your sister certainly is; but you are definitely my child! You might be shy and reserved, but once you love someone, you love them fiercely; just like me. I see more and more of myself in you everyday– and while it makes me proud, I sure feel sorry for you!  🙂

Sweet child of mine- you will never understand how much love I feel for you. You will never understand how much I love to hold you, or why I love to carry you any chance I can. You can’t appreciate how it secretly makes my heart swell when you refuse to let your dad put you to bed at night- yet how it breaks my heart when you run to Gramma or ask for her when you get mad at me. You won’t know how I worried about you when you were readmitted to the hospital with jaundice as a baby; and how I wish I could slow time down just to keep you from growing up so fast.

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As you turn three today, I hope that you have a wonderful day full of love from those around you. I hope God watches over you the rest of your life. Never stop laughing, never stop dancing, never stop singing. You are a beautiful girl, and I am so thankful that you are ours. You will always, always be my baby- and I will love you more than you will ever know.

Like our favorite book says, “Like you for always, Love you forever”.
Love,
Mommy

Finding Faith during the Ride

Moving heifers always requires at least one more person than you plan for, strong fences, and a keen sense of reading into the future. One day you might ride out into the herd, and the calves don’t even raise their heads or pay you any attention; the next, it is like you have a magnet stuck the side of your horse, and those same critters literally run over top of you to check you out. Point them in the direction you want, and watch them scatter like dust in a windstorm. Take it nice and easy, let them have their space, and watch them run away at Mach-3 like you zapped them with a hot shot. Pretty much no matter how hard you try to keep in charge of the situation, these young ‘uns tend to end up being the ones calling the shots. A sign that God blessing you with a teachable moment.

In my experience, raising children (especially girls, about the ages of 3 and 5), is a lot like working heifers every day of your life. Just when you think you have this momma gig all figured out, one of your kids crawls right through the proverbial fences you thought were tight and strong; leaving you standing a few lengths behind wondering what in the world just happened. Moms and dads are the ones that are supposed to be in control, to give their kids room to grow, to be able to anticipate their children’s every move; but sometimes it feels like no matter how hard you try to keep them safe and teach them to be a respectable member of society, they are the ones teaching you a lesson. These are the tests that the good Lord gives us to see how well we can perform as parents… like it or not.

In my house, “free time” is generally spent snuggling a child through a nap, folding laundry, or doing dishes. Between a full time job in town, running the books for our trucking business, blogging, photography, and being a wife and mom, the time I actually get to spend riding my horse and working on my family’s ranch is few and far between. Because of this, I find myself struggling to find my faith day in and day out. When you don’t get to do the things that give you an outlet away from the hustle and bustle and demands of “city life” (we live on my mom and dad’s ranch, but my kids go to daycare in town, and I spend 8 hours a day in a cubicle; therefore, I am stuck in a city-fied life), taking time to have a grateful heart and really speak with the Lord seems almost unattainable most days. I pray best when in the saddle, but I would guess that God has forgiven my poor lack of prayer practice as of late. I used to struggle with prayer, because it always seemed like such a one-sided conversation. I would tell God “thanks” for everything, ask him to help me with some issue I was facing, and that was it. I never gave it a lot of thought or put much effort into it.

I have been a “part-time single” mom since our oldest daughter was born five short years ago. I can’t claim to be a single mom, because I have no right to claim that when my husband is home at least three out of seven days of the week. Even so, much of our daughter’s lives have been spent being bossed around by mom, and mom alone.  I have never been very good at setting aside time for myself, or to talk to God; and when my babies were in bed and the only company I had were sleeping dogs and Facebook, our little farm house felt awful lonely.

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I realize, now, though, that God has been here all along.

He has been with me on those long nights, when the tears wouldn’t stop and the toddler wouldn’t go to bed. He was there when I was hurting, because of people that were hateful and unkind. He was there when the kids were sick, and I was sick, and daddy was on the road. I might not have been able to see him, or hear him; but like that extra rider when the heifers got a little crazy, I know that he was always there, riding herd. Tending to this house. Tending to me; not because I said the perfect prayers, or always had a gracious heart; but because that is what He does. He was there the morning my husband rolled his truck when I was six months pregnant with our oldest daughter; and the day he decided to strike it out on his own as a self employed trucker and rancher.

Being a parent is hard work. No matter if you are in a great partnership with your spouse, going it alone, or doing the part-time single parent gig, it isn’t for the faint of heart. I truly believe that if you open your heart to God, he will help you get through the tough times. He will fill your heart with so much joy that sometimes, you think it is going to explode. And just when you think you can’t keep up, he gives you a fresh horse to ride; a new day, a new chance, to start fresh. No one is perfect; especially not our kids. We are all a work in progress, so swing your leg up over the saddle, sit tall, and enjoy the ride.

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With Love,
Richelle