Monday, August 22, 2011


" A friend is one to whom one may pour out all the contents of one's heart, chaff and grain together, knowing that the gentlest of hands will take and sift it, keep what is worth keeping and with a breath of kindness blow the rest away."
- Arabian Proverb

What is normal friendship development? How often do you hear from your friends? How often should you expect them to want to get together? I know that every relationship is different. I know that people's schedules and ability to give to a relationship change over time. We all get busy with work and other activities and when we do have a chance to be home- we want to veg, not catch up with friends we haven't seen in a while. I am not a giving, present friend 100% of the time.

It's been so long since I've really made new friends. I've made very casual friends. They're the people who I hang out with on occasion and rarely seek out. We run into each other or someone has a wild hare and schedules a get together. We don't talk every day. We don't make it a point to get together and have dinner every month or two. We might purposely see each other a couple of times a year.

I think the problem is that I'm missing my best friend. The one who was always here. The one who wanted to hear me bitch about the stupid stuff every day. The one who would dance around the living room with me when I heard a song I liked. The one who would put spending time with me above everything else in his life. Yeah, that guy.

Amy's my other best friend. She also listens to the stupid stuff I complain about on a daily basis. She has never danced around the living room with me- although she did once wear my bra stuffed with socks. WE make spending time together a priority- when she's in town- which isn't often. I love hearing from her. I love listening to her complain about the stupid stuff that's bothering her in her day. I love hearing her speak about the things that excite her.

I don't have a best friend in my town, let alone in my house, anymore. Amy is awesome, she really is. But she's not the same as having a best friend in my house who partners me in life. Am I possibly at the point where it's time to put my toes back in the pool and open myself to the idea that there's another man out there who can be that friend, lover, and partner that I want?

The shallow relationships that I've maintained here locally (of the male type- my girls ALWAYS have my back!)- they're annoying the hell out of me. They've been annoying me for a couple of months now. I don't want to be an afterthought. I want to be important in someone's life. I miss having a partner. I miss having a lover. I miss having someone to take care of, and think about, and do things for and with. Of course I miss Dave... but this is something more and different. I think that I may be ready to make room in my life for someone new to be that partner, lover, and friend. Maybe. Or maybe I get so irritable and annoyed because I'm not ready? Eh, what the hell... next month is going to be about exploring and trying to do something positive with my social life. I'm open to ideas and suggestions (and set ups- hint, hint).

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Remember Me

Interesting Revelations that could only happen during a county fair...

That which we persist in doing becomes easier, not that the task itself has become easier, but that our ability to perform it has improved. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

I learned something important during the fair this year. I like being single. Shocking, yes?

I feel like I need to add a disclaimer here: I would never have chosen to live my life without Dave- if anyone had given me a choice. In no way am I saying that I'm happy he's gone or that my life is better without him. Neither of those statements are true.

What I am saying is: I like being single. I like my life. I like not answering to anyone else. I like being the one who decides how to allocate resources. I like knowing that it doesn't matter if I make it home for dinner or not. If the kids are with me we can do whatever sounds good at that moment in time. If we want to stay late at the fair, there's no one missing us at home. If I want to wake up at the last minute and make the kids eat a granola bar in the car for breakfast- no one's going to criticize.

During the course of this year we've bought a lot of sheep. Well, we bought 8 sheep. That's a lot for us. I picked them all up with the horse trailer. Then I drove them to weigh-in... and sheep meetings... and the fair. If you've never pulled a trailer, or if you've always pulled a trailer, that might not seem like anything special. I haven't really driven with a trailer in about 18 years. I've kind of forgotten how to back up a trailer without jack knifing. It's also kind of interesting to hitch a trailer, not difficult, just interesting.

As I was backing into the driveway with the trailer on the night of fair check-in, I realized that I was incredibly happy and peaceful, both at the same time. We'd completed our 4-H year. The kids were doing well. Every place we'd needed to be- we made it. Stuff was ready to go for the show the next day. The kids were ready for the show the next day. I BACKED the trailer off the road, down over the drainage ditch, and into the driveway by the shop. Then I unhitched the trailer, sent the dog to the house, said goodnight to the llama (who I'd tracked down, tried to purchase, and transported the week before), got in the suburban to pull around to the front of the house... and realized... I was HAPPY! And a large part of the reason I was happy... was because I'd done hard things... and I'd done them by myself.

The boys were with me. I can't say that they didn't help- they did. People in our 4-H club helped, of course they did. But really- I did this. I got my family through the 4-H year. I managed the meetings. I figured out how to feed the kids dinner on the go for the nights we needed to be on the other side of the valley by 6:30. I bought the suburban so that we would have a vehicle that will haul a trailer. I arranged for Chris to buy sheep. I took him to buy sheep. I paid for some of the sheep. I arranged to have feed delivered. I encouraged Chris to go out every day, multiple times a day, and take care of his lambs. I drove us to all of the meetings, and workshops, and practices that the kids needed to learn and grow. I re-educated myself on how to BACK UP that darned trailer! For all of the details that had to be worked out, big stuff, small stuff, seemingly inconsequential stuff... it got done.

I can do hard things. I can even do them with grace (sometimes). I can make things that used to be hard seem easy because my skills have improved. It feels good.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Canyon County Fair 2011

I'm a horrible mom and took hardly any pictures of the fair this year. I'm sure that I have more pictures on my camera- but not really very many of them. This picture is of Chris slick shearing his own lamb a couple of days before we checked into the fair. He did a great job. His leader, Claudia, and I helped smooth things out a little, but he did most of the work himself.

The little boys both showed pygmy goats this year. They had a great time walking them around the goat barn and keeping their water bucket full. There's just something about little boys and water. Both of them did all right in the show ring- considering they were milling around for about 45 minutes while we waited for the judge to come back from her break. Then they lined all the little kids up on the pavement in the sun and had them stand there for a few minutes before letting them enter the show ring. By that time- none of the kids were practicing their best showmanship skills. A good time WAS had by all... and Sam did NOT lie down and play with the grass in the arena this year! Overall, that's an improvement!

Chris showed two market lambs and two ewe lambs. He slick sheared one and a half of his own sheep. TJ, the teen leader for our project, Claudia, and I sheared the others. This was the first time either Chris or I had tried using the slick shearing clippers. They're nice. I think we should budget to purchase our own set next year.

The lambs did fairly well. Chris got blue ribbons on everything. He is the world's slowest pen cleaner. I just have to say, it was painful to watch- so, I'd usually go hang out in the tack stall behind the barn :-) This was the laziest I've ever been at a fair. I did make sure everyone got where they were supposed to be on time, but the kids did their own work. That's the way it's supposed to be, that's the way it was. Nice. That's all I can say :-) NICE. Even the handing off of sheep and putting on of halters as Chris exited the arena and had to go right back in with a different sheep- a kid helped with that (thanks, Katelyn!).

We have some of the nicest families in our 4-H club. It was a joy watching and listening to them as they worked throughout the week. Some of the teens got a little bit grumpy as the days progressed and the lack of sleep was compounded. They were still awesome. I didn't hear a single parent complain about the judging or berate their kiddo for anything that happened in the show arena. We're blessed to be part of such a supportive, positive group of people.

This is the first year Jake's been old enough to show. He was VERY proud to have the opportunity to take Willow the pygmy goat. Willow was born in 2003. Showing him has become a family tradition. Each boy has gotten to take him to the fair the first year they show. The really funny part of that is that Willow is a pain in the butt to show. He also weighs about twice as much as the little boys do. Willow's big goal for the past four fairs has been to visit the expo building- on the other side of the fairgrounds. Whenever he sees it, he takes off running... and Jake can just run along with him or let go... he CAN'T stop him! It's pretty funny. All the people in the area panic and run to catch the wild goat. Little do they know that like any good dog, he'll eventually come back. It does make it challenging to actually show him when the showman only weighs 40 pounds though.

Sam took a yearling doeling of Mom's to show this year. She'd been to a show or two, but hadn't really been handled all that much. When we started working with her (and I use the term work very loosely, pygmy goats didn't really register on my list of important prep work for fair) she would barely walk on a leash. By the time she came home she was a friendly, little thing. She also walked well on her leash and learned to follow the boys and Willow even without a leash. I like her a lot (shh... don't tell anyone. I have a reputation to maintain). She did run across the arena, dragging Sam, but all in all, they did pretty well together.

It was an awesome fair. Even though I didn't take many pictures it is still a fair that I'm sure will live on in our memories. We came. We had fun. It was a success!

Tuesday, August 02, 2011


For some reason today I feel like I can't breathe... and on top of that I have more than my fair share of bitchiness. I'm trying to keep it to myself, but it's spilled over onto other people more than once today. I hate feeling like this. It's that strange, emotion moving under the skin feeling. My filter's not totally gone- but it's shredding a little. I'm not sure what to do to bring everything back into alignment and find my peace again. I'm hoping that it's just exhaustion and that once I get some more good rest my normal good mood will return. In the meantime- I just need to work on only letting the nice words come out of my mouth :-) which is much easier said than done.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Really bad poetry- you've been warned.

"Tis the night before fair and all through the house,
our belongings are strung amid mess, socks, and sawdust.
The club banner and name signs reside
on the suburban front seat
beneath the sheep cards, shears and rakes.

The laundry is strewn like dandelion fluff,
trailing through the kitchen and into the hall.
Kids are asleep still wearing their boots.
(They've been warned that I don't care if they wear thongs on their feet- my job's to make sure they don't forget the sheep).

Dining's not an option at the dining room table.
Archaeological digs might find layers of paper, glue, felt, stickers, and lotion (don't ask).
Our poor dog is lost in all the commotion.
The kitchen remodel is coming along.
Luckily, food's not a priority, there are more important tasks.

Thank goodness record books were due early.
Now if only we can keep them looking neat and pretty
Until they reach the club display booth.
Things feel way too in control tonight-
Surely something remains to be done, but for now... I'm headed to bathe and make myself smell girly.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Bad Dreams

Early this morning I had a dream about Dave. In the dream I realized that I should have tried texting him (because technology is just THAT good, lol). When I texted he answered. Then he came over. The gist of the dream was that he wasn't dead- and I was FURIOUS because he hadn't contacted the kids (for some reason the fact that he'd ignored me too wasn't an issue). Apparently he'd gone into some sort of job training program (like Job Corp?) and had decided that he just couldn't do what he needed to do while dealing with all of us.

I know it was just a dream. I know it was ridiculous. I know that Dave was NEVER like that. But- I'm still having a hard time getting past the mad feeling.

The whole dream could be a sign that I've been dithering over whether to keep Dave's phone line going or not. I want to save the outgoing message but I haven't actually taken the time to do so. Until the message is saved off of there- I'm willing to keep paying for the phone line- because when I need to I can hear my husband's voice. I can even leave him a message if I want to.

We're in the middle of getting ready for fair. The sheep weigh in next Tuesday and our club scrapbook and record books need to go in on Monday when we decorate stalls. When I'm busy and overwhelmed I tend to project my feelings about one issue onto another issue (or person, or event). Before Dave died I was much better at seeing my own motivation for actions. I was also better at recognizing emotions and knowing why I felt the way I did.

This evening I'm wondering if maybe I'm a little mad at Dave for leaving- and leaving me with all the work and all the kids to raise. I know he didn't have a choice, and had he been offered a choice- he would have done almost anything to stay (except trading his life for one of ours). I still love the man like crazy. He's been dead for almost two years and I still find myself getting irritated with him on occasion. I don't want to be mad at him, especially when there's nothing he can do to make it better. There's no action anyone can take to change the outcome.

This is my life. I love it. Come hell or high water... this is mine. My family. My home. My choices. My decisions. My life. It wasn't all that long ago that it was OUR life. Even though it seems like it's been a long time- it hasn't been all that long. I miss OUR life. I miss having someone to share the joys and the responsibilities and someone to take care of (but not like a parent caring for a child). I miss my honey. He was also MINE. Apparently I don't do well letting go of my stuff or my people.

Here's hoping that tonight brings sweeter dreams...

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Mom's not always all there

Have you ever had one of those moments when your brain malfunctions? Chris and I weighed his lambs on Thursday for the first time since weigh-in, which was mid-May. It was a little scary. Our rate of gain averaged .39 pounds per day on feed. That's abysmal!

Ha, ha- guess what? I was remembering the weigh in weights as 10 pounds heavier than they really were. Dur, dur, dur, dur. Way to go, Mom. Now that I tracked down the real initial weights- we're averaging .53 pounds gained per day on feed (.53#/dof). That number's still not great, but I think it will look better the next time I weigh them.

A little over a week ago Chris woke me up to tell me that there were dogs in the sheep pen. I went out and sure enough, there were two black dogs sitting at the gate, wagging their tales at me. When I went in they started growling, but moved away from me. They'd been there for a while. There were five sheep hiding in the little shelter in the dog kennel (my husband built a huge dog kennel and it's the main "corral" for the sheep- they're out on pasture, but can still get into the kennel, it's where we grain them).

I couldn't convince the dogs to exit the gate, so I started looking for the two missing sheep while keeping an eye on the dogs. The Boise market lamb, Sheepy, was standing pressed against the side of the shop. He looked fine, he just wasn't moving around. Lily, our bum lamb, was dead on the ground. She'd been gutted. Of course- she's Chris's favorite.

Since I couldn't get the dogs out without upsetting the sheep- and I did not want the sheep starting to run with the dogs in the pen- I went back to the house. On my short walk back I had to make the choice between shooting the dogs while they were still in the pen or getting their owner. Since I was positive they were from the house back behind us, I got my keys instead of a shotgun and made an early morning call in my nightgown to tell the neighbors I needed their dogs out of my sheep NOW.

That's always a lovely way to meet your new neighbors, isn't it? Especially since I was wearing my nightgown and not much else. The neighbors were great about the situation and even took Lily and buried her so that I didn't have to deal with her. They paid for her and the vet bill for the rest of the flock.

Every lamb we own had scrapes and scratches in all four of their armpits. The big, blackface ewe, Tulip, had a couple large scrapes on one flank. Sam's little ewe had a large cut in her left, front, armpit which required stitches (she's still swollen and stiff).

Sheepy looked good, but still wouldn't rejoin the flock so the vet and I went out to him- she thinks he broke his left, front leg. The suspected break was high enough, towards his shoulder, that she couldn't splint him in the pasture. She said we could bring him in if we really wanted to, but she recommended not moving him around that much because it could displace the break. She was also uncertain that a splint would work well, since the whole shoulder would have to be immobilized. So far he's looking good. He's a little stiff on that front leg, but actually limps less than Brisca (Sam's ewe) does.

At any rate- back to that rate of gain thing... I'm not too concerned about the mediocre rate of gain because I'm pretty certain the dogs ran off a week's worth of gain. We'll try to weigh more often so that we can keep on eye on things. I'd like to boost that gain to .7#/day from here until fair time. Chris has been excellent about feeding the sheep and keeping them in fresh water. He really is committed to keeping them healthy and happy (plus, he wants more money).

We've started buying from a feed store in Caldwell. This is big news to me for two reasons. First, they give us an excellent price on feed with a 4-H discount. Second, the sales rep delivers the feed to our house. She even brought Chris a pallet to keep the feed on so that it doesn't absorb moisture from the concrete shop floor. Betz Feed, Caldwell, Idaho- they deserve a shout out! Awesome people, very youth friendly, very knowledgeable.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Nap time

Remember when your kids were young and they'd get so tired, either from excitement or illness or changed routines, that they just would NOT go to sleep? It starts out with just a little fussiness, just a bit of grumpiness. Before too long they're just not happy with anything you try to soothe them.

Favorite blankie? Why would you offer them that rag? Binkie? What do you think I am- a baby? Cuddles? Oof, you're too hot- let go! How about a game of peek-a-boo? Good grief woman, I'm mad and i do not want to play that STUPID game!

Eventually, after exhausting all the fun parenting tricks in your bag- you just put the kiddo to bed and leave them to scream. The screaming is heart breaking- but trying to jolly the kiddo out of it doesn't work. So, screaming it is- until- abruptly, mid-wail, they fall asleep.

You can try to head off the screaming, but once the kids hit that point in their exhaustion- all you can do is delay the inevitable. The screaming has to happen before they'll be able to relax and surrender to sleep. One of the toughest things any parent does while their kids are young is try to figure out when to help and soothe and when to leave the baby to melt down. There's a bit of second guessing and wondering if there's something else that can be done to soothe them to sleep... but generally by the point of leaving them to "cry it out" you've already tried everything you know- at least twice.

Grief can be like that. I feel it rise up under my skin. Everything feels unsettled and "off." Nothing is really right. Everything rubs me the wrong way. I can jolly myself out of it for weeks, sometimes even months at a time- but- eventually the melt down has to happen. No one can pull me out of it. I can be distracted- but beneath the surface the grief is still rising.

Melt downs aren't fun. They may be cathartic- but they never totally dispel the grief. Nothing is ever completely settled. That seed of grief is still there. It will grow again. But each time I melt down, I learn more about the process and begin to see the signs along the way that warn of impending chaos, anger, and heart wrenching sorrow. As I recognize the signs I can try to vent the grief in new ways and hopefully get a handle on it before it's ready to explode out of me.

The melt downs are coming much farther apart these days. I hope it's because the grief is starting to mellow a little (although there are days I'd dispute that statement) and because I'm gaining new tools to help vent the emotions before they take control of me.

* (as I typed that last line, "Walk this Way" started playing in the background- and I smile. Only my very good friends will understand. I think it's a sign that I should end here).

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Saturday, May 28, 2011

That time of year

It's been so busy around here that I haven't taken the time to sit down and write. We did get all three market lambs weighed in. The two largest lambs are weighed in for the Canyon County Fair and the little guy is weighed in for Western Idaho Fair. We missed our sheep 4-H meeting this month because we were still driving home from the Boise weigh in.

Most of our club doesn't go to that fair because it's too far away. We joined the club when we lived on the west side of Nampa- just across the highway from Caldwell. When we moved we didn't want to switch groups because we love our club and the families who comprise it. Now I joke that we have to drive to the boon toolies in order to participate- and that's more than kind of true. It means we're one of few families in our group who live this far east. It also means that the Boise fair is much more feasible for our family than for most of our friends.

Right now I am so glad to be a homeschooler! Summer is so busy and we run all the time. We get up early and work all day. With the boys therapy appointments happening several times a week on top of all the 4-H activities and general work around the house and with the sheep- there is not a lot of down time. I can hardly wait until September. Most families will be gearing up for school activities and busier than ever. We will be taking a break and enjoying the rest. I don't know how we'd ever manage to get everything done and take care of everyone if we had to work around a school schedule. I know that families do it all the time- but what do they give up in order to do so?

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Weight GAINING blog record!

I have a couple of cousins who are documenting their weight loss journeys on their blogs. I think it's a great idea because it give accountability and provides an easy to access record of their successes and can work as a wonderful tool for evaluating whether whatever method they're choosing is workable for them.

:-) I'm more in need of a diet than either of my cousins- but- that's not something I really care about working on at the moment. Maybe someday it will be, but today I'd like to use my blog to begin documenting our 4-H lambs and their progress through this summer!

Chris picked out his market lambs on Saturday and yesterday he and Sam went and bought breeding ewes. We need those market lambs to be over 110 pounds by the end of July in order to be able to sell them in the 4-H/FFA livestock auction at our fair. Judging by the frame size of our lambs I think he needs to shoot for 130-140 pounds in order to have his lambs finished (appropriate amount of fat cover) by fair time.

The ewe lambs don't have to make a minimum weight requirement, but we would like to breed as many of them as possible this fall. In order to do that they need to be fairly large and have enough fat to begin cycling (ovulating). The Dorset ewes are smaller framed than our black faced sheep. Chances are that they'll be too small to breed no matter how we feed them- but we're still going to do our best to grow them as well as we can. I suspect Chris will show his Dorset ewe for showmanship and he certainly plans on showing her in breeding classes at the fair. I'm not sure what kind of weight goal to set for them. They should be about 110-120 by fair time- I think.

This morning we brought out the new digital scale that Chris purchased with some of his market lamb money from last year. I think we need to make a box for it so that it's easier to keep the lambs on top of the platform without holding on to them (and skewing our weights). So... the weight in results for May 12, 2001 are (drum roll please...):

Lily (bum) 55lbs
Flora (1163, Chris's Dorset ewe) 55lbs
Brisca (1173, Sam's Dorset ewe) 45lbs
Tulip (1123, Chris's Hamp/Suffolk ewe) 80lbs
Brutus (801, Chris's Caldwell lamb) 69lbs
Sheepy (1047, Chris's Boise lamb) 60lbs
Lambchop (257, spare market lamb) 79lbs

We're planning on feeding Rangen lamb grower this year. The bag we opened last night looked good enough for the humans to eat and the lambs seem to love it!

Sam was so excited about his ewe that he got up about 10pm and I had to walk out with him to check on her. Chris was up at 6:30 this morning because he felt the need to check too. :-) So begins our year...

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Grand excitement

Last Saturday we bought Chris's market lambs and brought them home. He's learned a lot since last year- but I did catch him measuring the ribs instead of the loin. He laughed and moved farther down when I asked why he wanted to know how big the lamb's ribs were.

Today we get to go look at breeding ewes. I'm almost (not quite, but almost) as excited as Chris is about it. Chris really wants Hampshires, I saw some beautiful Dorsets at the fair, Suffolks always sell well... choices, choices. The people we're going to see today have some of the nicest sheep in the valley. I'm positive that they have gorgeous suffolks and dorsets, but I'm not positive they have hamp ewes for sale (I think they do, but her email only mentioned the dorsets). It will be exciting for Chris to go actually choose- luckily the Fishers are really nice and helpful and can offer him advice that he may or may not listen to if it were coming from his mother.

It's really odd to realize my kid is old enough to participate in his own money making venture. My nine year old is now self employed :-) I'm proud of him!

Monday, May 09, 2011

Saturday, May 07, 2011

What is that? Can I eat it?

We had the pleasure of doing chores for Mom tonight. She has an interesting mixture of critters at her place. Before I get into the list of animals I need to tell you- the woman has a MS in Animal Science. She spent years working for USDA, FSIS as a red meat inspector. She is one TOUGH lady.

She's also very tall and slender, elegant, intelligent, and totally capable and competent at many things.

Having said that (now I'm giggling): the lady raises pygmy goats and cavies (guinea pigs, for the uninitiated). When I was growing up we had horses and sheep and eventually started raising rabbits. Now she's pygmy goats and cavies. In fact, she's an ARBA cavy judge and the reason I got to feed tonight is that she's out of town judging.

The high points of the evening were playing with her spotted donkey, Sabrina, and watching Dory the Border Collie watching the cavies. There's nothing else on Earth quite like that border collie focus. She's intense... and she REALLY likes cavies.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Walk in faith

Faith is not something to grasp, it is a state to grow into.

Mahatma Gandhi

Walk in faith. It's harder to do than you'd think. Go with the flow. What will be, will be... so very hard for people like me who seriously lack patience.

I know that time answers most questions and heals most hurts. It just takes sooooo long when what I want is instant gratification. Could we please just fast forward life and get to the good parts? Wait! No, I take that back. I want a long and rich life. If I fast forward through the everyday stuff I would miss the most valuable parts of this life. So... how do I get from here to there without fast forwarding and without losing what is left of my mind?

Walk in faith.




Walk in faith.

Why are the important things always so complicated- and yet simple at the same time? Simple, simple ideas- such simple ideas.

Fear crowds out faith. Impatience comes with it. If I let Fear and Impatience play together long enough they invite their friend Anger (at least he seems to come to all the parties they host at my house). So... when all else fails and fear starts to set out the snacks and is looking for the phone to invite his friends over... practice walking in faith, practice letting go of what I can't control anyway (and really wouldn't want to), practice loving without reservation, practice being open to life and whatever good may be coming my way. Trust that whatever happens is what is supposed to happen... and put the fear and worries in a balloon and "let it go."

Walk in faith.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

:-) Follow this link, because I can't figure out how to embed this video in my own blog. Krissy is a fellow homeschooling mom who was part of our TEACH co-op before she and her family moved to California. This video is about how she maintains and cultivates her positive mental attitude. Towards the end she references a book called, "The Compound Effect." The sign she made for her kids has stuck with ME ever since I watched her video the first time. "It all matters. It all counts. It all makes a difference over time. Everything I do, say, and feel matters, counts and makes a difference over time. I make amazing little choices every day."

"If only"

~Sydney Smith

Many years ago Amy and I came up with what we call the "no regret" rule. Whenever we come to a crossroads and we're not certain which path to take we ask which choice is most likely to yield the fewest regrets.

The path not chosen always bugs me. What would have happened if I'd chosen differently? What if I'd said this, or done that? How would my future have changed? Would my future have changed? I LOVE to have all the variables thought out and in my control. Hahahaha, how often is that EVEN a possibility?

Sooooo... we come to the point where two roads diverge in the wood- and one path is clear and well worn and the other is murky and shaded... which way do you go? It's easy to walk in the sun, we still don't know what's around every bend, but at least we have light to see. But that murky, shadowed path calls to me BECAUSE I don't know where it leads. What if paradise is just around the corner and in my desire for safety and security I totally miss it? On the flip side- what if hell is around the corner and I save myself because I took the sunny path?

I'm getting to know myself a little better in my old age. I find that I really will regret not seeking the truths found along the less traveled path.

It's scary to put yourself "out there." Recently I did just that. All of my cards- they're on the table. And... it didn't change anything. I could have kept to the safe and sunny path and eventually these two roads would have met further down the hill. But... I always would have wondered if they would end up in different places. I would have regretted not taking the scarier path.

I might have regretted it for the rest of my life, because "if only" is a phrase that can eat away at a person. "If only" I'd said something. "If only" I'd done something differently. "If only" I'd been braver (because saying what you really think and feel takes a whole lot more courage than I'm sure I have on most days). "If only..."

Even when nothing changes, "if only" has no power over me- because I explored that other path. Even when both roads led to the same destination I can move forward with no regrets- and that meets both the words and spirit of the "No Regrets" rule. :-) I have no regrets, I wouldn't change a thing. I won't take anything back and I don't wish I'd stayed quiet and still.

"No Regrets" baby! It's a pretty darned good rule to live by.

Friday, April 22, 2011

The end of dating

Dave and I actually only dated for about 20 months. March 6, 1999- November 3, 2000. I always say that we dated for two years- but that's a slight exaggeration.

When we started dating we were just having fun. Neither one of us was interested in a long term relationship- or really any kind of relationship. I remember about a month after we started seeing each other my friend, Kory, came to stay with me before his best friend's wedding. He left the same day that Dave was coming into town. As we were standing at the door saying our goodbyes, Kory looked at me and grinned and said, "You're only safe as long as he doesn't start bringing you presents."

It was the weekend before Easter.

He brought me the neatest box made of limestone tiles. Inside it was a little purple rabbit. He'd picked the tiles specifically because they were pieces that contained fossils. It's really one of the most unique things he ever gave me (other than children- the children are pretty unique).

I just laughed at the time (although Kory's comment did keep repeating in the back of my head) because we were NOT dating. We were just friends who were enjoying each other's company.

Fast forward a few months. During the late summer of '99 I went and spent a week in Nevada with my best friend and her husband. It was sooo much fun! My mom had surgery on her arm that week and I had been planning the trip to Amy's for a couple months... so, I asked Dave to check in on mom and I went to NV anyway (I know, bad, bad daughter). Amy and I talk on the phone ALL the time. It's not like she didn't know anything about this man I was spending time with- but not dating.

His name came up so often in conversation (because I was thinking about him) that I finally had to admit- we WERE dating. It was a surprise to me. He laughed when I told him. Apparently he'd thought we were dating for a long time.

We dated for another year while I worked in Shoshone and lived in Gooding. It was nice having a regular date every two weeks. After our fair in July I took a week's vacation and flew to Seattle to visit Kory.

I lived in Gooding.

Dave lived in Nampa.

We didn't usually see each other during the course of the week.

Somehow it was different being out of state. Also, I apparently gave Dave the wrong number for Kory's house and I didn't have a cell phone (in that ancient time period). It took FOUR WHOLE DAYS before he finally figured out the actual number (apparently my writing makes fours and nines confusing). It was horrible. I missed him SOOOO much- even though it made no sense, because I didn't usually see him during the week.

That's when I knew- I wanted to marry him. It took another month and a half to convince him. Seven weeks later we were married. :-)

Thursday, April 21, 2011

One month

One month until sheep weigh-in :-) We're getting close. Tonight we got to go play with lambs for our 4-H meeting. The kids all got to feel and evaluate the three lambs we did catch, and look at many, many more from the fence. It was our first meeting of the year involving actual animals. Chris enjoyed it and he remembered quite a lot from last year. It's easy for me to think we're starting over each year- but we're not. He retains a LOT of information.

Here's to building for the new year!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


It is not enough for a man to know how to ride; he must know how to fall. ~Mexican Proverb

You would think that in our lives we are faced with ONE big challenge. ONE huge jump to get over... and then after that the course is clear and smooth.

Yeah, how many of you are already shaking your heads? Life's not like that.

Let me begin by saying that I love my life. I really do. With all it's challenges, all it's tears, all it's craziness- it's my life- and EVERY difficult thing has been balanced with amazing good.

People frequently ask if there's anything in your life you'd go back and do differently? No. Not only no, but HELL NO! Every experience helps build who I am today. Are there events I'd change if I could- of course there are. I'd love to grow up with a dad. My husband- still miss him every day and probably will for the rest of my life. Choices I've made- those I would never trade or take back. I could choose differently and I might have saved myself a lot of tears- but I might have missed out on the best parts of my life.

At this point in my life I thought that I'd be settled, my life would be not only planned out, but falling in line according to the plan. Let's just say that I never expected to be a widow. I worried about being a widow. I worried about it a lot. My mom's a widow (and has been since she was 27). That's what I grew up with.

My husband and I had a remarkably peaceful and smooth marriage. There were very few fights. I ALWAYS had it in the back of my mind that if he died I didn't want our last words together to be less than loving. EVERY time I left the house I told him I loved him. If he left without coming in and hugging me and saying, "I love you," I'd call him as he was driving away (he stopped leaving without hugs and kisses pretty early in our marriage).

Keep in mind- I'm far from sweet and kind and easy to live with (it's ok Mom, you can comment if you want to). My husband had to be a pretty special (and patient) man in order to put up with me and my constant, compulsive need to make sure that our relationship was solid ALL the time. There was ONE day I almost left home without kissing him goodbye. We were in such a hurry. It was the night of our 4-H enrollment meeting and we were running late and I had sooo much I needed to do. Backing the van out of the driveway I just couldn't pull out of the driveway- I HAD to go kiss my husband and tell him I loved him. What if I never saw him again?

I'll remember that night for the rest of my life. It was October 1, 2009- and he was dead before I returned from that meeting.

Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean someone isn't out to get you.

What do you do when those ideas come into your mind and you just can't get them to go away? What does it mean to keep having recurring thoughts that just seem totally unlikely? Do you pursue that odd, random line of thinking? Do you ignore the illogical? Assume it has no basis in YOUR reality and turn away? Or do you push beyond what is comfortable?

And... when your worst fears seem likely... and you have a choice to walk away... avoid those fears... don't get involved... be a stranger. Do you walk away? Do you RUN away? Or do you stop, turn around, shake it off, and start to fight?

Huh, I'm a fighter. Who knew?

I'm also incredibly insecure, not about myself or my self esteem (good heavens, no- I should probably have a little LESS self esteem). I would very much like security in my life. I want to know what is going to happen, when it's going to happen, where it will happen, who it will happen with, and why it will happen. ("It" being life). I want to know what variables will change the results. I want to know which variables are available- whether they'll change the results or not. I want to KNOW. More than that, I WANT CONTROL. Life is scary. I should be able to exert some influence on my own destiny.

Yeah, quit laughing and shaking your head. I know that I don't actually get to control the big things in life. I KNOW that. It doesn't mean that it's easy for me to accept that. I hate being a passenger. Who's steering this thing? I hate being scared. Hate= fear. I hate, hate, hate being scared.

Guess what? Life's not about easy. The things we value most are NOT the ones that come easily or that we gain without taking big risks.

Oh look! There's a huge hurdle ahead! The worst part of jumping is knowing that if it doesn't all come together "just right" it's going to hurt like hell. You know going in- that the possibility exists that you're not going to be able to walk away if you fall. Yet, we jump anyway.

When all of your feet are off the ground and you hang in mid-air- faith carries you. So, deep breath, put on the big girl panties, shoulders back, chin up... and... crap! I DON'T JUMP!!! I like my horse on the ground! I like to be safe! What am I thinking???

Oh yeah, now I remember... I've hit the part of the course where my only choices are to turn around and go back or to learn how to fly. I don't think I can live with turning around and retreating so I guess I'd better settle myself with a deep dose of faith, trust, and the belief that I will land on my feet after clearing this jump.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Saturday, April 09, 2011

defecation. defecation. defecation. defecation. defecation. defecation. defecation.


Make Me An Instrument of Your Peace

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love,
Where there is injury, pardon
Where there is doubt, faith,
Where there is despair, hope,
Where there is darkness, light,
Where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much
seek to be consoled as to console,
not so much to be understood as to understand,
not so much to be loved, as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
it is in dying that we awake to eternal life.

--- St. Francis of Assisi

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Sunday, March 27, 2011


We've been sick around here since last Wednesday. Joyful. Joyful.

Have I mentioned in the blog that we've been raising bum lambs? I keep meaning to take some pictures to post- but then I forget or Chris erases my memory card. Bum lambs are never a money making proposition. Typically they're "free" lambs that the producers are willing to give away in order to not have the hassle of messing with them. :-) We all know that there's no such thing as a free lunch, don't we?

So... to make a long story short... milk replacer is $47 for a 25 pound bag. Ouch.

We've been raising two lambs. One is a cute little ewe lamb with a spotted body (she'll grow out white) and really sweet little wool cap. She's also squirrelly as can be... we like her anyway. The other lamb was a twin whose momma had big teats. Big teats make it hard to nurse because it's hard to get their mouths working properly to get milk- especially if the ewe is engorged. His twin died and the producer (our 4-H leader) told us that we could take him (since we were looking for a companion to our ewe lamb).

The ewe lamb (Lily) is an easy lamb. She picked up on bottle feeding within about six hours of arriving here. She's gained steadily and started on feed well. The ram lamb (Leon) is not bright! He took about a week to catch on to bottle feeding. I don't know how many times I drenched him with a turkey baster to get some food in his stomach (all the while cursing that I didn't have a tube handy to just tube feed the sucker).

We banded Lily's tail when she was about a week and a half old. Leon had to wait because he still wasn't eating well and I didn't want to stress him. When he FINALLY was thriving Chris and I headed to the pen with the elastrator, intent on castrating him and banding his tail (to make the tail short). What a happy day for Leon- we realized he only had one testicle descended- so no castration that day.

About the point we'd invested in our third bag of $47 milk replacer a vet friend of ours came over to anesthetize Leon and try to manually work the testicle down. That didn't work. So, she took him back to the clinic and they operated to surgically castrate the lamb (which she assures me shouldn't cost more than $50). At this point we decided to use Leon as a market lamb for the fair because he was WAY too expensive to put in our freezer. On the plus side- he was gorgeous.

You all know where this story is going. Well, if you raise livestock you know where it's going. Bright and early on Friday morning Chris went out to feed. Leon was dead in the pen. Yep. Now there won't even be an expensive lunch- and I still have most of that last bag of milk replacer.

*random thought for the post- did you know that the word "elastrator" isn't in the spell check dictionary. How can that be? I've included a picture on the very rare possibility that the rest of the world doesn't know what an elastrator is.

Thursday, March 24, 2011


This morning Sam broke one of the fence rails on a fence that Chris uses with his Breyer horses. It's pretty major drama. For the past two hours he's been stomping around the house and complaining about Sam. Now I notice that the house seems to have picked up a new decorating theme. The signs are everywhere. Sigh.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Starting over

It's been a while since I've posted regularly. I'd like to change that. Writing helps me work through the things that confuse or bother me, gives me a platform to share joy, and helps me record the important events in my life.

Reading back through my blog reminds me of what my children were doing at any given point in time. It reminds me of how far I've come and how far I still have to travel. It brings to mind the wonderful memories, and relives the sad times. It's a small slice of my life- and it looks like that life was seriously impacted a little over a year ago. If you look at the blog it seems like that life may have just flat out stalled- because there are so very few blog posts.

I have had stalled times. I've also had times and memories that I haven't felt able to share and I haven't put forth the effort to record something else in their place. Today, I'm pledging to change that. I may write drivel, it may have no deep meaning and even less literary merit- but I'm going to write- and I'm going to write regularly.

A little bit stronger.

Monday, January 24, 2011

May I become...

May I become at all times, both now and forever

  • A protector for those without protection
  • A guide for those who have lost their way
  • A ship for those with oceans to cross
  • A bridge for those with rivers to cross
  • A sanctuary for those in danger
  • A lamp for those without light
  • A place of refuge for those who lack shelter
  • And a servant to all in need.

-Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama

Sunday, January 23, 2011


"My wife Mary and I have been married for forty-seven years and not once have we had an argument serious enough to consider divorce; murder, yes, but divorce, never."

I've been blessed with a couple of friends who are at about the same stage in the dating (or preparing to date) game as I am. It's always nice to have other women doing similar things that you can talk with- kind of like when we were all first moms and shared stories about pregnancy and caring for infants.

One of the things I've discovered in the past year is that I really do have an arrogant streak when it comes to dating. Dave and I spent eleven years as a couple. We were happily married for nine years when he- died. He didn't leave. I didn't get tired of him. We didn't "grow apart," or "fall out of love." We loved and appreciated each other more on the day he died than we did on the day we married. In other words- our marriage was a success. I'm not single because of choices that I made, or because of choices that Dave made.

Most single people in their thirties are divorced. There's a lot of divorce going on with our age group. Divorce doesn't mean you're a bad person. It doesn't mean that you don't have what it takes to be part of a successful relationship. It doesn't say anything about your character. The circumstances leading to your divorce- those say a lot about you.

It's almost taboo to bring up people's failed relationships. I realize that it may hurt to talk about what went wrong. So many people respond by saying that they don't want to look backwards- they're focused on the future- because it's the future that matters. That's an admirable outlook- in a way. But, no matter what led to the divorce, I don't think you're ready to date if you haven't analyzed the negative outcome and examined how your own choices and actions led you to where you are today.

As a new member of the dating pool, I want to know what people are going to do differently this time around. If you just never were a good match for you spouse, what are you looking for in a partner this time? What traits did you overlook that later on you couldn't live with? Even if your ex is psycho- how did you wind up choosing them? If you admit some blame in the failure of your relationship- how have you changed so that the same issues aren't going to haunt your next relationship?

My heart is delicate. My husband guarded and protected it. He placed my well being and protection above his own. I was spoiled, and in return I spoiled him. I would have walked through fire for that man. We laughed- a lot. We loved- a lot. We simply enjoyed spending our time with each other- a lot.

Before we got married, we spent two years dating. In the beginning we weren't looking for a life partner. We were just having a good time and enjoying each other's company. As the months passed we spent more and more time together. About six months after we started seeing each other I realized Dave had become one of my best friends. He thoroughly ticked me off one night and then hurt himself when he was out walking off his own case of mad (because I did a good job of ticking him off too). As I was pulling the goat heads out of his hands I realized that I loved the idiot (I was still a bit mad at him at the time).

Those two years of dating were sometimes a bit stressful. Once I realized I was most likely in love with Dave, well, I wanted to know how the story was going to play out. It was too early to think of marrying the man. I really do think two years is a good time frame. You learn so much during that two year time frame- and you have your own space so that you can think about whether the things you're learning are things you want to live with or if they're going to drive you to wish to commit murder.

The hardest times for us, as a couple, were probably in the year after I realized I REALLY cared for Dave. I didn't want to grow to care even more if he was going to wind up walking away in the end. There's such a fine line to walk between protecting yourself and being open enough to let love grow. It wasn't made easier when Dave refused to say he loved me- 15 months into our relationship. He told me that those were words he never planned on taking back and he was saving them for his wife. Over the next few months he admitted a few times that he probably did love me- but he still wouldn't say the words.

I hated feeling like I was vulnerable, but I trusted Dave to treat my heart gently. Finally, I had the opportunity to apply for a job in Moscow- which would put me about four hours farther away from Dave than I was while living in Gooding. I was only partially teasing when I told him one afternoon, "You should marry me or I'll be moving farther away." He said, "Okay." And then- then- after almost two whole years- then- he said...


and he kept repeating it for the rest of his life.

Our marriage was fairly smooth (we all have our arguments though), but our dating relationship was strained at times because I so badly wanted to know whether to stay and wait for him or whether to walk away and look for someone else. How do you navigate the dating pool? What questions do you ask? What experiences do you look for?

I know that my approach can seem arrogant, but really, my marriage was a success. If I ever marry again I want that marriage to be just as successful. The group of single men my age is so completely different than the group of single men was when I was in my early twenties. They're a scarred bunch. Battle wounds- divorce, addiction, strange personality quirks- the battle wounds are plentiful. We all have a LOT of baggage (hey, look! I have 3 kids!). How do you go about sorting through the possibilities? When you meet someone that you do care for- how do you know when it's time to move on or when it's time to fight for what you want? Heck, how did we know that the first time around?

Thank you, fellow single women in your thirties. Even though none of us have the answers, it's still helpful being able to talk among ourselves. It's really helpful to have validation that you're not crazy, that your questions are questions being asked by the entire group.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Rage at stupid comments made by unsuspecting, innocent bystanders

Yesterday a friend whose son was climbing all over him made the comment that, "this is what happens when we don't have enough daddy time." There's nothing wrong with that comment, right? Divorce happens- and it happens more frequently than anyone likes. In fact, it's almost more common at my age than a happy marriage is.

The moment the words were out of his mouth, I felt rage. Instant rage. Of course we were standing in the shop out back- which is where my husband spent most of his time, and where he died. My emotions are always close to the surface out there.

I hate feeling sorry for myself. Really, I do (all evidence to the contrary). This is one of those issues that push my buttons so fast I can almost feel my head start spinning (like in The Exorcist). His son is so small and so cute. He's four (I know, because I asked). My baby was three when Dave died. Sam was 5, Chris was 7. They were so young.

My kids get so mad when I call them my babies- but they'll always be my babies. When the paramedics were working on Dave I just kept thinking over and over, "Oh, my babies." Every chance they had to make memories with their Dad ended on Oct. 1, 2009. Jake will never know his dad at anything other than the level of a three year old. He won't talk to him about girlfriends, or puberty, or his first job. Sam won't be able to read to his dad as he masters the skill of reading. None of them will be able to show their dad the projects they make. There will be no more water fights, no more working in the garden and watching their father obsess over making everything perfectly square and in line.

All the small memories that make up a relationship- they're finished.

I'm so glad that most children won't ever have to deal with losing a parent while they're still a child. It's not that my friend is divorced. It's not that his son is lucky enough to have two parents. The comparison between what others have and what we don't have- it's heart breaking.

I'm furious that Dave's gone. Every time I think I've moved forward and healed a bit- something like this happens to remind me that while I may look fairly still on the surface- underneath I'm paddling like crazy. I'd bet that people never realize when something flips that switch. I don't say anything, but I can feel all the hair on my head stand on end and my skin gets very cold. It feels a lot like the initial shock- so very cold. So often people tell me how strong I am. I'm not strong. I'm mad... and I have a feeling that it's going to be a very long time before I get over it.

*For the record, in case anyone is wondering, I don't like it when people censor themselves either in an attempt to protect me :-) I guess the truth is that it's the situation and not the comments that set me off.

So- please don't quit speaking freely around me.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

It's a God thing

This week I had the opportunity to give $130 to someone who needed it way more than I did. I don't know the person I sent the check to. She's a friend of a friend and I learned of her need through facebook- mainly because she was so frustrated it kind of leaked over into her status update. I was curious and asked what her need would cost- and it was just short of $130.

After I saw her response I thought to myself, "It would really be nice if someone would just take care of that for her." She's dealing with some major stresses in her life and her family. I remember how it feels when it seems like life keeps throwing rocks at you and the barrage never seems to end. How can you ever get ahead- or even deal with the rocks currently being lobbed at you? I've never sent money to a stranger ever before in my life. For some reason I felt compelled to do it this time.

When I first offered to pay the bill, she turned me down- because she didn't know when she'd be able to pay it back. I told her that when Dave died people carried us. I have a karma debt- and it's a big one. No repayment is necessary- pay it forward when the time is right. She reluctantly agreed.

It felt right. I have no other way to explain the impulse that drove me to mail that check- it just felt right. I finally got the check in the mail yesterday morning. One hundred and thirty dollars. It's not a small amount of money, but it wasn't going to make me or break me either. We can be creative and not eat out this month. There are several areas my family can cut expenses to make up the difference in our budget. More than once in my life I've felt a strong compulsion to do something. Usually it turns out to be a very good thing.

This afternoon a friend on facebook posted a link to a class her local college is offering online about how to be happy. Here's the comment I left her (and I was being kind of sarcastic, but not totally). "Maybe I can save you some money, lol! Work hard towards something. End each day with gratitude for what you have and forget what you don't have. Believe in something larger than yourself. Take every opportunity to be of service- without expecting anything in return-ever. Smile. Be a friend a friend would like to have. "

Then I went and picked up today's mail.

In the day and a half since I mailed that check I've recieved two checks made out to Dave as settlements in class action lawsuits that we never signed on to. One was for $4.91 and the one I found in the mail right before I left for 4-H tonight was $100. I also found a twenty dollar bill tucked into a strange spot in the tote bag I used while Christmas shopping.

So... to recap... in the day and a half since I mailed a $130 check to a woman who I don't know (but felt compelled to help)... I've had $124.91 in unexpected money make it's way into my hands. This means I'm only down $5.09- and I got to feel the joy of helping someone without expecting ANYTHING in return.

Yep, it's a God thing.

Jake camping in the living room

Jake camping in the living room