Branding near Wheatland.

We went to help our friends brand calves yesterday. Cliff loaded up the horses and older kids and left by 5:30 am. I woke the little ones and fed & dressed them and followed in the suburban by 6 am. (We can’t all fit in the truck, so I had to drive separate.) It was a gorgeous morning, sun rising through a bit of clouds and into a clear sky.

branding

By the time I reached the ranch, the cowboys were almost done gathering the cattle. The lane runs through the pasture, so I was surrounded by cowhands at one point. It always feels a bit like I’m living in a western movie set, when I see cowboys riding down the hills on either side of me. :) Never gets old.

Looking for strays.

Looking for strays.

The wind wasn’t too bad, thankfully, so the baby didn’t have to gasp for breath. 😉 Babies just don’t appreciate this Wyoming wind much. I strapped him in the stroller, and assigned an older kid to keep track of Reata while I ducked around horses and cowboys to take as many pictures as I could. I knelt in some questionable damp stuff with my new jeans – yuck. And I was awash in branding smoke most of the time, but I did get a couple of nice ones, in between feeding and changing the baby, and getting him to sleep.

My 3 older kids.

My 3 older kids.

branding

Brandings are a favorite time of year for most ranchers. We reconnect with friends and neighbors – some we haven’t seen since last year’s branding! We share jokes and tips and stories of the past year. We gather for a huge feast afterwards, always a highlight! Yesterday they served prime rib, which is a very delicious cut of meat. Most of the time if a fellow ranch wife comes to a branding, she will bring a dish to add to the table… a pie or salad or some rolls. It is not required, but always appreciated.

Cowboygirl.

Cowboygirl.

Dragging to the fire.

Dragging to the fire.

Cliff and Jenni wrestled calves a while.

Cliff and Jenni wrestled calves a while.

And remember, calves hide (skin) is ‘way thicker than yours, so branding them is not nearly as painful as it would be for you. 😉 And besides that, it is required by law.

branding

Jane Grove branding.

Jane Grove branding.

branding

Branding

Birds in my yard.

My parents visited us a couple weeks ago. Mom would not stop bugging me about a bird feeder! Finally I hung one up just to please her. :) But you know – I have been having so much fun trying to capture these little guys mid-flight. They are so cute! Mostly sparrows, but then there’s this jay that keeps coming and chasing the others away. Jays are so ornery! Bossy and obnoxious. But strikingly beautiful.

Thanks for bugging me, mom!birds

birds birds birds birds birds birds birds

True Joy

True Joy
When your heart is broken and your soul distressed
Hang on to Jesus – he comforts the best.
He knows the pain of losing a friend,
He was forsaken; alone at the end.

Trials and hardships are part of this life
True joy is found only in Jesus Christ
Abiding in Him brings comfort indeed,
Trusting in Jesus for every need.

Satan would have us turn skeptic and doubt,
His whispers are poison, we must throw them out.
Getting mad at God – asking endless “whys”
Does no good at all – don’t believe the lies.

“In everything give thanks”, Scripture says,
Deep joy comes to him who obeys.
Nothing can shake you, not one little thing
There’s blessed Peace, when walking with the King.

 

The myth of sleeping when baby sleeps.


 

The myth of sleeping when baby sleeps

You’ve all heard it: “Sleep when your baby sleeps”, but really? Have they actually tried running a household while sleeping when baby sleeps? I mean, the baby is awake for the grand total of 1.5 hours, and 97.2 percent of that time is consumed with changing their diaper, feeding them, and trying to get them back to sleep. In the approximately 3 minutes remaining, it is pretty hard to make a meal, launder grungy clothes, clean the bathroom, and comb your hair. Let alone get the nail polish out of the carpet in your toddler’s bedroom, or actually eat a meal.

I don’t know. Maybe it’s just me who never outgrew their dislike for childhood naps. Or maybe it’s because every time I decide to be good and lay down for a nap – that’s when my 3 year old decides to wake up early from her nap, or my 6 year old feels its an appropriate time to start screeching “NOT FAIR!!” at her brother (who made sure I was drifting off to sleep before starting to teasing her).
Perhaps I am the only one who has no ‘off’ knob on my brain – and as soon as I lay down in a (relatively) quiet spot for 3 seconds, my brain thinks it’s a perfect time to remind me of that closet that needs organized, and that gunky stuff I saw this morning in the fridge, and did I remember to send the car payment or am I gonna wake up from my nap with no car in the drive?

I try. I really do. I think:
“Today I will get a nap no matter what.”
I carefully instruct and warn (threaten) the older kids: “No fighting! None! A scream will earn you extra chores and you know how bad you hate cleaning the fridge when there’s gunky stuff in there! NO teasing! Actually, you two don’t even talk to each other! On second thought – you all go outside and don’t come back in till I say you can!”
“What If we’re hungry or thirsty?”
“Drink from the creek – pretend you’re pioneers, OK? And you won’t starve in 1 hour, I promise… now go.”
I then carefully get the baby asleep and immediately lie down myself. Its quiet. Peaceful. I will put all thoughts of empty socks drawers and crunchy floors out of my head. We can go barefoot tomorrow. It won’t be fun – with the crunchy floors an all – but I am getting a nap!

I am drifting off to sleep, finally, after several stern self-talks and mental floggings. Then I hear it – screams.
Happy screams. Shouts of laughter and joyful calling to one another, but right outside my bedroom window! I sigh and stick my head under my pillow. That does next to nothing for the volume level. I decide I can sleep through it, and will myself to ignore it and focus on the bird songs and whirring of the bathroom fan that I left running to drown out kid-noises.

Except it doesn’t. Nothing drowns out those happy shouts from 10 feet away. I grin a little, and roll out of bed. Sitting there on the edge of the bed I say aloud:
“I give up. I just give up.” And I stand up and walk to my waiting laundry.
“Sleep is not that important”, I tell myself, soothingly. “You can sleep all you want when the kids are gone.”
I know that’s probably not true – but visions of long, uninterrupted nights in my (very distant) future gives me the umph to go on putting one foot in front of another, sorting laundry and sweeping up kitchen floor crunch. I yawn a few times, and whisper pleadings for strength and grace for the rest of this day. To be happy and patient. To love unconditionally and relentlessly. To have a calm and sweet voice and not bark at my family. Because God has been so good and gracious to me – how can I be less to His children? He does, you know. He does give me grace and patience. Love upon love. And joy. True joy that tiredness can’t quench.
But I have to stay nestled in His arms, covered with His grace, and bathed in little prayers throughout my day. Church and friends and good books and long naps won’t get me through. Only my Father God and His power.

The myth of sleeping when baby sleeps.

We love each other! :)

Note: I don’t recommend having your kids drink from a creek. Especially where 800 head of cows also have access to it, if you know what I mean. They will probably get cooties and leeches and all sorts of gross things. Yuck. Please send a bottle of water out for them to drink. 😉 

March was busy…

  1. Hospital stay for the little man. Baby K had a bout of RSV, that dreaded respiratory illness that strikes babies especially hard this time of year. He (and I) spent 4 days in the hospital. I’m thankful the illness never became really bad. My sis pitched in and helped my kids at home while mom was gone, and sitting with me in the small peds room, helping the time pass. :)image
  2. Calving isn’t over! While night-calving has ended, my man still has mama cows to check daily. They like to pick odd times of the day to calve.image
  3. I caught up on some cinch orders. Some, I say, not all. I have more orders here – just hard finding time to fit them in. I enjoy making them, though, so I have a hard time saying no to orders! 😉 (I am not taking rush orders, there is a waiting list at this point.)
  4. School. Oh yes. Fitting in school for 3 kids somehow – not a small task. OK, so the older kids are pretty independent by now. But mom still needs to oversee. :) And the younger ones take more time. Reata, my 3 year old, thinks she must do school too, since big sis does!  :)
  5. Then there’s housework. Oh yeah, that. Carry on, fellow moms! Every task, no matter how small, when done for the glory of God is not small at all.image

Rest Assured – A Recovery Plan for Weary Souls, by Vicki Courtney

Rest Assured

A Recovery Plan for Weary Souls

By Vicki Courtney
Published by Thomas Nelson

rest assured

Rest Assured is a plan to create room to breathe in our souls again. Ideas for relief from the current hectic lifestyle so many of us are caught up in.

I liked how she calls us to quiet the distracting noises of technology and society, in favor of focusing on Jesus. I also like that she included practical ideas at the end of each chapter.

A “Rest Stop” challenge is included at the end of each chapter for use in Bible studies and book clubs. Bonus material includes a 30-Day Restitution Plan and 100 Ways to Give It a Rest.

Some things I wasn’t happy with…

In chapter 6, she talks about spending time in nature alone with God – no phones, no companions, not even the Bible. So we can focus just on God. My reaction was: “What?!?”
Scripture is the one true test of all the spirits and words we hear. How can my time alone with God be better without Scripture there? I am not speaking of prayer. I am speaking of a retreat specifically to know God better. That seems contradictory to the words of Scripture, that says that Jesus is the Word. John 1:14  You can’t know God without knowing His Words.

Also, the practical ideas would work better if I had a different lifestyle. And that’s the problem.
I have 5 kids in my home, 3 of those I homeschool.
I cook 3 meals a day, and my husband comes home for all 3, so no pb&j here!
I also have a garden, yard, and large home that must be maintained by me & the kids.
I am randomly called on to cook for the crew.
I am a fostermom.
So no, I cannot just ‘escape’ for several hours per week, or go on a 3 day retreat,  nor do I have any desire to! My desire is to learn peace and rest at the feet of Jesus, in the midst of my daily duties.

One of my favorite quotes is from Annie Poonen:
“The whole world is God’s footstool, so we can sit at the feet of Jesus wherever we are.” 

Another from Brother Lawrence, loosely quoted, as I can’t find the exact words:
“I can be as much in the presence of God amid the clanging and clatter of pots and pans in the kitchen, as when I am in silence at my times of prayer.”

That’s the kind of retreat and renewal I desire – daily, hourly, at the feet of my Jesus in my heart.

Overall, the writing was a bit tepid for my taste. It did not stick with me, did not challenge me, convict me, or change me. I found it a bit boring, really. When I read an inspirational book, I want it to inspire. This did not do that for me.

You can check it out here: Rest Assured

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Hello again, Spring!

Spring! Ah, what a lovely season! I won’t say it is my favorite, anymore, because on the high prairies of Wyoming – spring is still quite chilly most days. But I surely do love the idea of spring! All the new babies in the meadows – skipping and dashing around their mamas, the fresh, thin mist of green springing up in the hay meadows, the flocks of blackbirds filling the air with their chattering… oh yes, spring is indeed a wonderful time of year!

spring calfspring

After 2 months of night shift, my man has finally returned to a normal day schedule. I am so happy about that! Night shift was actually less work for him, so in that way it was good, but I really didn’t enjoy being on an opposite schedule from him. Especially since I homeschool 3 kids and have 2 little ones here too. It definitely took some creativeness to keep everyone reasonably quiet, but it was good experience for me. I can now sympathize much more with others in that situation. :)

Goofy Reata!

Goofy Reata!

Reading with her cousin.

Reading with her cousin.

We had a real warm spell a few weeks ago, and I took advantage of it by getting in some walks. My foster baby is 4 months old, and HATES the wind in his face, so I was tickled to find a secondhand stroller with a wind-guard! Helps a ton to keep him happy and warm.
He is such a good baby. Of course he has his moments, like the carseat! He isn’t a big fan of that. And he decided to disown his pacifier, which does NOT make me happy! I love when I can stick a paci in their mouth on a car ride, or at church, or to go to sleep. But nope. No amount of coaxing will make hm take it anymore. spring

Last week the snow and colder temps returned, along with another round of cold virus in the house. But God is still good and on the throne, so I have no complaints!
I have been trying to get back into a better rhythm of Bible study again, now that I’m settling into life with a baby. I find that keeping a Bible laying beside my chair is the best way for me. I used to think: “Oh, I have the Bible app on my phone, I’ll just use that.”
But the fact is – the Bible app is the slowest app to load. I mean, who wants to wait 2 minutes for the app to load, when Instagram loads in .5 seconds?! Seriously, folks, this is what happens. But I won’t accept that. I must get in my reading daily, or I don’t grow. I don’t thrive. I start going backwards immediately. The Word of God is powerful. We say that – but do we believe it? It really is powerful!!! It gives me direction, instruction, courage, and strength for daily life.

So, that recliner where I sit all the time to feed the baby – that is ‘my’ chair. I have an older Bible laying within arms’ reach. I chose an older Bible, because I don’t want to worry if it gets coffee spilled on it, or if my toddler decides to scribble in it. I keep my precious Christmas-gift-from-my-husband Bible elsewhere. I pick it up and read a verse or two or a couple chapters when I have a few minutes. It’s amazing how much you can get read in a day if you make it a priority! :) I bet you have ‘your’ chair somewhere too. Maybe you can find a Bible that you can lay within arms’ reach and start feeding on God’s Word daily. It will change your life, if you let it. :) If you are afraid of kids or pets messing up your nice Bibles, then you can go to the Dollar Tree and get one for $1.00. I bet you can manage that. 😉 and then no worries. Just read it. Use it. Mark in it. But read it.

Cliff reading at the breakfast table.

Cliff reading at the breakfast table.

February in Wyoming.

Pulling a calf to the warm barn, with mama following.

Pulling a calf to the warm barn, with mama following.

February is a month of love. Valentine’s Day, candy, hearts, and roses. But on the ranch, February is much different. It means long nights of checking heifers, pulling calves, wading through thawing snow, and bottle-feeding bum calves.

It is also the middle of the long Wyoming winter – blizzards and high winds and ice. We have been having crazy high winds the past few days, 75+ mph. It blows over semi-trucks, and blows shingles off houses and blows over anything not weighed down. If the windmill blades aren’t locked down, they will blow right off!

We have been dealing with some sickness,  (not too bad) and it got the baby. One day he was feeling so poorly, that I took him for a drive – just to lull him to sleep. I don’t remember ever doing that before – taking a baby for a drive to make it sleep. But by baby #7, you tend to relax on some things. 😉 Plus, with Cliff sleeping during the day, I couldn’t have him screaming in the house. Anyways, he did go to sleep, and I moseyed around the ranch, stopping to snap a few pictures from the window.

calving cows

The snow has mostly melted, for the first time since Thanksgiving. We had giant snow piles along the lane for months. But I don’t relax too much, because March – May are normally our snowiest months! :) I expect several more big storms before we see real spring.

I am busy with our foster baby – he is a good baby, but still… babies require a lot of time. I almost forget how often they like to eat! 😀 He’s getting chubsy and smiley and oh! so fun. We are all falling in love with him.

Note: I can’t say much about him, due to confidentiality laws. But I’ll address the most asked questions —
No, I can’t tell you why he is in foster care,
No, we are not planning to adopt (we always work to reunify kids with their families), and
No, we have no idea how long we will have him. :) 

So that is why my blogging suffers, right now. I’m busy making bottles, changing diapers, and rocking a cute little boy. :)

February in Wyominghorses on a ranch in wyoming

Today it is really warm outside, and the first calm day for a long time. So the kids ran outside as soon as they finished morning chores – determined to not waste this lovely day! I was happy to see them go. The older ones promised to watch their littlest sister carefully – which made me glad. Teens are the coolest! (lots of tractors/trucks/horses/bulls make the ranch yard not terribly safe for a tiny human)

Yesterday we had a recertification meeting with the foster care co-ordinator. I was nervous, (which was unnecessary,) but as always, she was calm and helpful. I hear so many horror stories of caseworkers and foster care workers, but I guess we are just really blessed. Ours are the best! I mean sure, some are more strict than others, and some are naturally more cheerful, or whatever, but I haven’t had a bad experience with any, so far. Really kind and helpful.

Ok, I’m starting to ramble. I better go throw a load of laundry in the washer.
I hope your day is pleasant and you find a bit of nature to relax in. :)

Wide open places are my therapy.

Wide open places are my therapy.

 

Calving Season, 2016

Calving season is upon us again. And my husband is on night duty – 7 day a week.  I am so thankful we have a large house, so he can get some sleep during the day! I mean, we have 5 kids, and they are not quiet! :)

Meanwhile, I am trying my best to stay on top of schooling 3 kids, caring for a baby, and keep a 3 year out of trouble! Whew! I’ll just tell ya right here; I am not doing it. I am not ‘staying on top’! I am sliding into a hole. I can’t keep up with everything. But that’s ok. I am doing my best, and what work doesn’t get done today will still be there tomorrow. 😉  I am very much sticking to the basics. School is obviously a top priority, and meals and laundry. Cleaning gets done in fits and starts. My kids help a ton, and ya know – when you have a 2 month old baby, it’s ok to just do the basics, right?! :)

The sunrises gleaming golden and peach on the snow makes for beautiful mornings! I never get tired of the view from my window…12640345_10205955384945463_7447383232765907524_o

I walked down to the calving barn this week, to see the new babies. They were mostly sleeping, but I got a few shots. This lil guy had a rough start and was staying in the barn to get warm and healthy.calf This cutie was just soaking up the sunshine! I need to go down more… those babies are so cute. IMG_6662How’s your calving season going? Do you sleep alone during calving, too?

Gluten-Free Peanut Blossoms

Welcome to another guest contributor: Mrs. Kauffman. This is my sister, and she runs a gluten-free cooking blog. Her husband is sensitive to gluten, so she cooks gluten-free daily in her home. I am anxious to try this recipe, myself! You can find her blog with more delicious GF recipes right here: Gluten Free Cook Shack

This is possibly the easiest gluten free cookie recipe ever. It only takes four ordinary ingredients. And I’ve had people say they taste better than regular peanut butter cookies. But that is for you to decide and then let me know what you think. 😊

Gather the ingredients.

Gather the ingredients.

You will need:

1 cup peanut butter

1 cup sugar

1 egg

1 tsp. baking soda

These amounts can easily be doubled for a bigger batch.

Mix the soda into the sugar a little. White or brown sugar will work.

Gluten-free Peanut blossoms.
Then dump all ingredients into a bowl and stir thoroughly.

Stir together.

Stir together.

Spoon on to a cookie sheet. Press with fork, if desired.

Gluten-free Peanut Blossoms.
Bake at 350* for approx. 10-12 minutes or until they look just barely done.

Gluten-free Peanut Blossoms

Now the most important part – leave them on the cookie sheet to cool at least 3-4 minutes before carefully removing to counter. You want them to be still warm. Too hot or too cold and they will crumble to pieces. And they need moved very carefully to counter to finish cooling. Once they are completely cool; then they will hold together well.

Enjoy fresh or frozen, dunked in milk or however you like to eat them!

Gluten-free Peanut Blossoms

Gluten-Free Peanut Blossoms
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: dessert
Serves: 10
Ingredients
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
Instructions
  1. These amounts can easily be doubled for a bigger batch.
  2. Mix the soda into the sugar a little. White or brown sugar will work.
  3. Then dump all ingredients into a bowl and stir thoroughly.
  4. Spoon on to a cookie sheet. Press with fork, if desired.
  5. Bake at 350* for approx. 10-12 minutes or until they look just barely done.
  6. Now the most important part - leave them on the cookie sheet to cool at least 3-4 minutes before carefully removing to counter. You want them to be still warm. Too hot or too cold and they will crumble to pieces. And they need moved very carefully to counter to finish cooling. Once they are completely cool; then they will hold together well.