Christmas 2016

While my little one eats his lunch (a diet of ketchup and banana bread – yum!), I am going to pause and relax for a few moments in front of the computer.

Christmas was great and I received a fitbit from Country Man. I have been wanting one for a while now. It is more fun than anything but encourages me to move around and be more aware of my activity level. I stay busy but it doesn’t hurt to be more conscious of how I spend my time.

Little Man received way more gifts than any child deserves and we’re left trying to figure out how to organize so many toys in a small home. Why don’t grandparents listen?

I am excited for the new year but also feel this underlying political tension from those around me. Normalcy will settle in and we’ll have to face certain realities that we’ve been putting off. I just hope 2017 brings unexpected peace and prosperity.

Hope you all had a great holiday and we’ll see you in 2017.

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Too fast

This first time mother thing has been a ridiculous joy.

I share happy photos and moments on social media, and even in my effort to “keep it real”, I find I have so little to complain about. How did I get so lucky?

In one month he will be a year old.

I’ve been told often it goes by fast, savor the moments, soak up the cuddles… and any other common saying that flows from well-intentioned mouths to new mothers.

And it’s all true. I’ve had to discover this for myself, but it’s true. I am thrilled to know what is meant by those words, finally.

I am also realizing it’s not the birthdays that measure their warp speed development for a mother.

It’s the exchanging 9 month for 12 month clothing in their dresser, or the moment you realize they no longer need to be rocked to sleep, but can do it on their own. Or when they throw their head back like a wailing widow because you won’t let them have your cell phone. When did you stop being my baby? We just brought him home, didn’t we?

There are enough photos stacked on our desk to fill two albums, enough toys in the living room for ten kids, and he’s not even one.

A ridiculous joy.

Happy Camper

Happy Camper

4 month old boy

My boy is 4 months old.
My boy is the most beautiful thing in the entire world.
He loves his toes and loves to smile and is surprised by his laughs and then by his sneezes.
He thinks momma is funny when she’s not trying to be.
He thinks daddy is silly and he is, which is one of the reasons momma loves him.
We are forever momma and daddy, and in the evenings and baby is asleep, Country Man will say he’s never been so happy and I couldn’t agree more.
Our boy, how we love him.
And he’s turned 4 months old.

theo-monster-naked

Halloween 2015

theo-snow

First snow, not so sure

14weeks-theo-face

Loving his feet

Worstest blogger ever

This post isn’t about me.

It’s about everyone else who blogs consistently and is making me look bad.

Chris Farley

No reason for this image except that it makes me laugh

I hope things are well with you. Not a whole lot new around here. The cows are still mooing and my Country Man is readying himself for calving.

Plan to update with photos over the weekend. Subjects in this sunny weather always look better than the gloomy winter ones.

We’ll see you soon.

Until then, what’s going on with you?

Walk Along the River

I don’t know about you, but we’ve had a non-dog days month of August so far.

along the river

It has been 60s in the morning and 80s at the highest throughout the day. July behaved poorly though, but August swooped in for the save. For our sake and the electric bill… not the crops so much.

along the river

By the water I seem to find myself much of the time this summer. It seems the older I get, the more I appreciate the privilege of being near the catfish and walleye (and garfish!) filled river.

Along the river

Some of my best Sundays are spent walking along the beach, helping Country Man look for arrowheads while behind us easily distracted small pups try to keep up, to later find their short legs tightly wound with burrs and weeds.

frog toad

During these excursions, we watch as the pups chase toad and butterflies along the riverbank until something else becomes more alluring. The sounds of fish splashing can be heard in the background.

butterfly

On one side of us is the water, responding to the sun with a twinkling fury, the other a lane of tall murky weeds where the sneaky ones prey. I feel them watching us whether they exist or not. In my mind a bobcat is stalking, fixating on Milo because he lags behind and would be the tastiest.

little-frog

Soon enough it will grow colder, and my boots will replace summer sandals, sweaters with swimsuits to go on our walks. It will be a different experience.

river-feather

One of these days I will find an arrowhead.

Time Traveling

You are looking at my childhood right there.

One of the few memories so strong that even a hint of Wintergreen Skoal tobacco transports me back to a kitchen, where Grandpa’s round cans sat at the counter-end next to a bowl of colorful M&M’s, intentionally set out for our every giggly stay-over.

Jo-Jo in the kitchen, whipping up breakfast and Pap coming up to give her a kiss good morning, saying “My Jo-Jo” and we’d grin and greedily reply, “No, our Jo-Jo!”

Country Man and I visited the two at their Arizona home recently, and the moment my feet entered the doorway I was hit with such nostalgia that I almost cried. I was seven again, I was loved, life was so very uncomplicated. I am in tears thinking about it.

The thing that baffled me was how the smell was exactly the same. The combination of  soap, Wintergreen Skoal, and unique skin that combines into this most beautiful scent that if I could bottle it up, I would pay high dollar just for the opportunity to lift the lid and enjoy the time travel for the rest of my days.

My grandparents seemed the same to me, looked the same, too. They eagerly hugged us, lodged us, and fed us. Paps even played tour guide, a little more slowly than 22 years ago but with the same enthusiasm.

It might sound strange, but I missed them even while with them. I missed their youth, somehow jealous that I will never know their pre-grandparent selves. I miss my grandma’s beautiful laugh, my grandpa’s love for the flea market and how he called us “his girls”.

I  miss them because I have the crisp memories, and because some day, that’s all I will ever have.

South Dakota, another fly-over state (with pics of California).

“So you’re from South Dakota?”

“Yep, born and raised.”

“So… what’s there to do there?”

I was asked this often while visiting my sister in Napa Valley last week.

California Dock

And to be honest, I didn’t know what to say.

How do you answer that question in a part of the world so active, so busy and loud with the sounds of cars and people and pace?

I loved my visit, adored the city.

Napa Valley, California

But that question still lingered.

I live in the country, as you know, and none of the following are available to me, not even close.

The decision to walk down the street and stop for a beer or wine, to shop, to maintain anonymity in this fast-paced populated world I forget we live in until I see it in action.

Napa Valley, CA

Nope, not here.

South Dakota sky

South Dakota

To step into the Pacific Ocean and taste the salt, not by choice but it always happens.

Pacific Ocean

Or to hear the tales of the great whites that inhabit this part of the ocean, the sightings and stories. I didn’t go too far.

Pacific Ocean

We have the salt-free Missouri, though, full of catfish and walleye. And if you’ve seen some of the catfish that grow in there, you’d be a little scared of those, too.

South Dakota sunset

Still, how do I explain what’s in South Dakota, with all it’s inactivity or corner street cultural diversity?

No fresh oysters to seduce my palate,

oysters

or Pacific salt water to soften my skin,

Pacific Ocean

and no fancy cocktail hour on the farm.

Mercantlie

South Dakota… I think I’ve driven through there. It has the four presidents, right?

As I closed in on the end of my tropical vacation, the evidence of my good time rested in moth pockets, a sunburn and overstuffed suitcase.

My sister sent me off with a hug and a camera full of memories, heading back to reality and my humid home state.

Looking out the plane window, I could see I was getting closer by the sections of farmland growing larger as we descended into the southern Dakota.

So, why South Dakota? some may ask…

South Dakota country

husband

Some things just can’t be explained.

weeds in the field

I often walk my dogs along the trail that passes the old country cemetery, where both farm families and Hutterites of all ages sleep in eternity.

It is decently maintained, win-rowed when a farmer has the time, usually early July.

However, for now while most are in the field, this little old cemetery sits a bit neglected, surrounded by prairie grass and weeds.

My dogs run through the grass and around the headstones, in and out, round and round with no awareness whatsoever to what’s beneath their padded paws. I walk along, careful not to step on the buried, as though the skeletons six feet deep would be offended if I did.

I wonder what me and Country Man’s headstones would say, what people would think if they read the inscriptions? I know this sounds morbid, it probably is, but it gives me perspective and a connection to the past I think people of the world often crave. I do.

I like to think we’ll hold hands, as though death couldn’t stop us from touching while we sleep, no more than life could.

Most of the time I don’t know what to think about all of it, death, what happens after it.

For now I am just grateful to be among the living, to exist at all.

The confrontation of life’s briefness is both terrifying and magnificent, like each breath and heart pump is amazing and those you love you choose to love, so each opportunity to hug and kiss and be kind should be taken.

That much I know for sure.

This is what a walk along the weedy path and past a cemetery makes me think on.

hunting for horns

Now that the snow has melted, it’s time to start looking for sheds.

We have extensive territory to cover and only a short window of time to do it, before competition builds or the pressure of harvest season begins.

I don’t always go along with him on these adventures; he’s got friends who match his passion and who don’t wimp out so easily. (Hey, this wind is cold. And dressing weather-appropriate would be smart).

But when the sun is shining and I can wear a tank top, I’ll be there!

While my husband picks up horns, you’ll find me staring at the spooked deer or the garbage remnants left behind from previous dwellers, because that’s what they did at that time, I guess.

It’s always a sad sight but I know we can do better by the land.

Even though I was “skunked” this time around, I will keep tagging along as long as I can.

P.S. To the gopher I called a prairie dog, I apologize. I hope you are not easily offended but full of grace. I really was born and raised in this state, believe it or not.

In the Meantime

Dreams ahead, the old behind,
and in the Meantime of life I sit.

And it’s in the meantime waiting that quietness settles
and I wonder what all this waiting is about anyway, and
if these dreams will materialize or if they won’t.
Which is more terrifying, I can’t decide.

In the meantime I sit like a good girl on a Ferris Wheel,
sometimes the lucky one and it stops at top and that’s where I smile, laugh,
but sometimes at the bottom which I really don’t like at all.

No matter where I’m stopped, I wonder if all his dreams will come true, too,
and I think I’d do just about anything to make them all happen, to see
him stand on his land and look for miles at the harvest ahead.

But I can’t, because it’s the meantime and the instruction is to wait.

So I do, and perhaps you’re there with me, and we
could take hands and ride round and round, up and down,
until it’s time to leave Meantime.