Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Fair Spring, where art thou?

Just 10 short days ago, on March 21st, it was warm enough for us to have a picnic at the park.

Kaden Nate, Dan, Amelia, Mack (in the stroller), Lily, Kamille Nate, Becca Nate

Almost all of the snow had melted off and the ground was dry enough to sit on. The girls played without jackets and their boots mostly stayed dry. Just a couple days earlier we'd gone to the park and Lily got soaked up to her armpits jumping in all the puddles. I was so mad I didn't have my camera with me!

Mack got by with a light jacket and had a great time riding in the stroller.

Then five days later, this was the view out our front door window:

That's Wyoming for ya! When you live at 6200 feet, real Spring doesn't come until May.

It is the height of calving season right now and this weather is a rough place to make an entry into the world. For ranchers with several hundred head of cattle, the only place for the heifers to give birth is out in the elements. Most nights are below freezing and Sunday night was especially cold. On Monday morning, Dan and Brian went out to the ranch on the west side road to help rescue calves born in the night, bring them into the warming shed and try to save their lives.

Is this not the cutest thing?

I couldn't have composed this better if I'd set it up myself! When I saw this little darling all curled up under the hay, I thought of something my brother-in-law Zen's dad, Ron, (a rancher up in Star Valley) once said. "There's nothing cuter than a newborn calf. You just want to kiss 'em right on the mouth!"

The calves were in an area enclosed with hay bales and covered with a tarp roof. It's amazing how much warmer it was in there out of the wind, even without any heat source. When we first got there Amelia skipped around petting them all. I was thrilled that we could get right up next to them, something you could never do out at pasture where their mothers are.

We went around putting hay over the babies who were shivering. Amelia got more timid once one of the calves moo'd at her.

We went back later in the afternoon after Lily got home from school. When she arrived, I asked her if she wanted to go out to the west side to see the calves and she was like, "Nah." Some days she's just wussy about going out in the cold. I said, "You don't want to see the baby calves that you can pet and hold in your lap??" Her eyes lit up and she said, "Ooh, yeah, yeah!!!"

Lily and Kamille rode with their dads and I followed a few minutes later with the little ones. When we got there, Brian's dad Keith was preparing a bottle for one of the calves while Dan and Brian were out rounding up the mothers to bring them into the corral. When a calf is in trouble, it's easiest to just load the calf into a truck and bring them to the warming shed where they can warm up and get a bottle of evaporated milk and water into their bellies, while the harder work of rounding up the mothers is done from horseback. Once the mothers are brought into the corral, the babies are usually taken out to nurse on their mothers.

I love this picture of Keith. To me, it speaks of the love that ranchers have for their animals. They're out there, in the freezing weather, rescuing calves and helping them survive until their mothers can take care of them. Makes me think of my Grandad Cox. He was retired from ranching by the time I came along, so I never got to see him in action. I can picture him doing this exact thing (minus the BlueTooth headset).

Lily and Kamille had a great time petting and snuggling with the calves to keep them warm.

By the time we got there in the afternoon, there were only two calves left in the warming shed and they were really big ones. Lily kept saying, "You said I could hold one on my lap!" It weighed much more than she did, so she had to settle for a tight snuggle.

Most of the calves were so exhausted from birth and the cold that they would just lay there and let you love on them and warm them up. Some of them stumbled around, kind of nervous, but if you would stand next to them and let them lean on you, they'd let you rub them and warm them up. Their fur was so soft!

If not for two whiny babies I could have spent all day out there rubbing and snuggling those baby calves. Must be the mother in me.

Here's hoping for warmer weather ASAP!

Monday, March 30, 2009

I hate being sick

Especially because I had to miss this:

and this:
and this:
and this:
This past weekend was a family Girls' Weekend (read about it here and here on Becky's blog). I was so psyched up to go and bond with my womenfolk, but Lily, Dan and I all got a nasty respiratory infection that put us all down with a fever and nasty cough-up-a-lung hacking. On Friday afternoon when it became obvious that I would need to stay home, I was so bitterly disappointed. But by 8:00 that night as I was shivering in my sweat, I was so freakin' glad to be at home in my own bed!

We spent the weekend convalescing, except for Dan, of course, who worked at his office, fed the cows and horses, and helped Brian and Keith tag calves. And to think he tried to give me hard time for taking the girls out for a walk on Saturday when they were driving me crazy being couped up in the house! The man doesn't know the meaning of "taking it easy".

For me, the hardest thing about being sick is that I still have to be the mom. When I feel crappy, I want to just crawl in my bed and sleep for hours, have someone else fix my food, get my medicine, provide me with movies to watch, etc. But when you have 3 kids, you have to do all those things for the little ones instead of someone taking care of you. I got so cranky because I was so tired and weak with fever and I remember yelling at Lily, "You're not the only one sick in this house!" Nice parenting. Real empathetic towards my po' sicky daughter. Dan and I tried to tag team depending on who was less exhausted. I guess the only thing worse than being the sick mom is being the sick mom with a sick husband.

We're all on the mend and thankfully Mack and Amelia didn't get sick, although Amelia was plenty cranky this weekend (likely from the clear lack of entertainment from her mother and sister).

Ladies, when can we have another Girls' Weekend?

Monday, March 23, 2009

13 Thirteen 13

This morning Lily asked me what was for school lunch and when I looked at the calendar I noticed today is March 23rd. I went into the bedroom and asked Dan if he knew what today was. Hmm...March 23rd, "It's our anniversary!" We both spaced it. I guess that's a sure sign that we're getting old.

Dan asked what I wanted to do today. "I dunno...What do you wanna do?"

"Have sex 13 times."

Alrighty, then. I better go now. I have a busy day ahead of me.

March 23, 1996

December 30, 2008

Friday, March 20, 2009

Saturday fun in the sun and snow

A couple weekends ago (March 7th) we took the whole crew sledding. We bundled Mackay up in the awesome snow suit that Brian and Becca got for him and headed the one minute drive to Test Hill for some good ol' winter fun.

Mack wasn't too impressed with the bright sun reflecting off the snow and after a couple minutes of jiggling, he fell asleep.

My friend Karen Thornock made the awesome knit sherpa hat for Mack. I loved it so much that I had her make one for Amelia and Lily also, but Lily will never leave a hat on.

Helping Daddy pump up the tube.

Amelia loves to eat snow as much as her sister does.

It was a gorgeous day and not too cold.

After I made the girls pose with Daddy for a nice picture, he started bouncing them on the tube and tickling them. Click to view larger.

Catchin' some air!

I was SO excited to go sledding. It had been so long since I'd been able to do any fun activities because I'd been pregnant. No horseback riding, no joy rides on the 4 wheeler, no snowmobiling, no sledding. I was totally ready for some action!

Test Hill is the popular sledding hill just southwest of town. Presumably, it's called Test Hill because people like to take their snowmobiles there and "test" if they can get to the top of the steep hill. I need to post some pictures from our sledding outing on Christmas day when Brian brought his snowmobile and drove everyone to the top after they went down on their tubes. Totally sweet!

Mack slept in the car the whole time, snug as can be.

There was lots of snow consumed that day.

Lily had no idea she had a snow beard when I took this picture. Goes perfect with her face!

My blue-eyed beauty.

Check out some of the fun had by all:

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Forgiveness and Redemption

OK, I've come down from my high horse a bit today.

My purpose for publicly posting my rant was threefold:
  1. To speak out in behalf of children
  2. To hopefully startle some people into facing their reality before it's too late
  3. To stand up for what I believe in

It was not to be sanctimonious (though it probably came across that way). I debated for several weeks whether or not to post my feelings on my blog. I knew there would be fallout and that I would seriously offend some people I love. But I just kept feeling very strongly about voicing my opinion.

Today my visiting teachers came and the lesson was entitled "Uphold, Nourish, and Protect the Family". It talked about defending the family and how it is our duty to speak out for traditional family values. I especially liked this quote by Elder Ballard:

"I call upon members of the Church and on committed parents, grandparents, and extended family members everywhere to hold fast to [the family] proclamation, to make it a banner not unlike General Moroni’s ‘title of liberty,’ and to commit ourselves to live by its precepts. …In today’s world, where Satan’s aggression against the family is so prevalent, parents must do all they can to fortify and defend their families. But their efforts may not be enough. Our most basic institution of family desperately needs help and support from the extended family and the public institutions that surround us”.

I spoke out because I know there is no other place where a person can reach their full potential and embrace all of God's blessings than within the walls of their own home. And the presumably mature adults are responsible for making that happen.

Is this easy? No, especially if there's not a solid foundation to begin with. Half of marriages don't end in divorce because it's easy. Marriage is not a cake walk. It takes a tremendous amount of self-control as well as a healthy dose of courage. Our tenderest feelings and greatest insecurities are exposed to potential misunderstanding and rejection. It's hard to lay yourself out there emotionally and not get what you need. But there is danger in not communicating openly. Your spouse is not a mind reader, so you set yourself up for disappointment daily if you're not brave enough to communicate what you want or need. Disappointment can grow and grow into a harsh companion, making you weary and resentful until you become desperate and seek solace outside of your marriage.

You have to be willing to put down your defenses to have any success in your marriage. And you have to be willing to accept that you won't agree on some things. That's simply just the way it is. But just because you don't agree doesn't mean you can't respect one another. It takes a lot of discipline not to fly off at the mouth (which I suck at sometimes) and to choose your words carefully so as to not create deep rifts between you and your spouse. It is possible to assert your point without getting ugly. And if you do lose it and get ugly, you have to be humble enough to apologize before resentment starts to build. I really feel that self-control is the formula for success in all areas of life.

We make mistakes, sometimes huge, sometimes minor. But there is a way to heal from those mistakes. If we were just wandering alone in this life, it seems that it would be nearly impossible for fallible humans to be able to change and forgive. But our Father in Heaven knows us and loves us enough that He provided a way that we can experience the miracle of forgiveness. Our Savior Jesus Christ suffered beyond anything we can comprehend so that He would know how to succor us in our most difficult times. Christ's Atonement not only opens the doors of redemption to each of us, but it gives us all one Person who loves us beyond measure and knows firsthand every emotion we feel, because He has felt it. There is nothing that gives God and Jesus Christ greater joy than to have each of us partake of the blessings of the Atonement. They are waiting, pleading for us to accept this gift so freely given.

I am reminded of a scripture in 3 Nephi 10:5-6 (also Matthew 23:37):

"How oft would I have gathered you as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, yea, O ye people of the house of Israel, who have fallen;... yea, how oft would I have gathered you as a hen gathereth her chickens, and ye would not... O how oft will I gather you as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, if ye will repent and return unto me with full purpose of heart."

The path to forgiveness is not easy. It requires great humility. And it's universally true that people have to fix their own problems. But God has not left us to do it alone. We have One with perfect love to guide us through the difficult journey.

"What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it? And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost." (Luke 15:4-6)

Likewise, I wish to rejoice with people I love who have found their way back to righteousness and happiness. And to support them along the journey.

(The painting above is by Minerva Teichert and is one of my all-time favorite images of the Savior. I hope to have it in my home someday. Did you know that Minerva Teichert spent the majority of her life raising a family and painting in little ol' Cokeville, Wyoming? It's true! Read about it here. Cokeville is full of Teicherts, many with large prints of their grandmother's work displayed in their home. My friend Vonda and her husband Ron live in the house with the large front room wall spoken of in the article. They have a huge print of Lehi and his family departing into the wilderness hanging in the living room. Vonda told me that the original canvas stretched from floor to ceiling!)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Stop behaving like a teenager

It's been awhile since I've had a good ol' fashioned rant, but I've been stewing over something for quite awhile and it's time I say something about it.

I am so tired of watching people who are responsible for the safety, security and happiness of children (i.e. PARENTS) behaving like selfish adolescents. It's unfortunate that anyone can become a parent, that someone with the maturity level of a 15-year-old can be the person that a child depends on for everything in their life.

When you become a parent, regardless of what your life was like before, it's time to buck up, put your wants on the back burner and do everything in your power to make sure your child not only feels loved, but that they feel safe and secure. This means giving them a home where mom and dad are committed to each other, where parents have the maturity not to be governed by what feels good, but by what is right.

Feelings are so freakin' overrated. So many people think that just because they don't "feel" happy or satisfied, that gives them the right to do whatever gives them pleasure at any given moment. If you are unhappy or unfulfilled, look in the mirror and decide what you can do to improve your life. It's not anyone else's fault, you're not justified in behaving inappropriately or frivolously just because another person didn't meet your needs or expectations. Do you think God is going to accept your disappointment with life as a valid excuse for committing sin or behaving irresponsibly?

If you are a parent, you just simply don't get to pursue relationships or a life that will potentially threaten the security of your child. If you've been reading my blog from the beginning, you may remember this post about marriage. I spoke about a friend who was getting a divorce because she was dissatisfied with her husband. He did not cheat on her, he didn't have any addictions, he was not abusive to her, and he worked his butt off so she could stay home with their 3 kids, who he was a great father to. But that just wasn't enough for her. She felt unfulfilled, so she became bitter and ugly towards her husband and began to pursue other relationships to try and make herself happy. Well, now her children come from a broken home, they have to live with their mom's boyfriend, while their dad is several hours away and they only get to see him once or twice a month. This does not make a child feel safe. They are not better off in this scenario (unless the other parent had addictions or was abusive).

I'm sorry, but if you're an adult with no children and you want to be a dumb ass, go right ahead. You can act simply on the basis of how things make you "feel". But if you have kids, you just cannot make choices based on your wants over your children's needs. Your number one priority in life is to protect and love your children. Kids should not have to worry about whether mommy and daddy love each other. Kids should not have to worry about whether mommy and daddy are going to get a divorce. Kids should not have to worry about behaving perfectly so they don't piss off mommy's boyfriend. Kids should not have to worry about dividing loyalties between mommy and daddy. Kids should not have to be embarrassed about how their parents behave (and I don't mean that they think being dropped off at school in the junky minivan is uncool). Kids should just be able to be kids, carefree and enthusiastic about life. And this doesn't just apply to children who are old enough to recognize what is going on. Kids are very intuitive, they sense emotions and are aware of tensions. They aren't stupid. They may not understand what's going on, but they sense anger, bitterness, sadness, and it makes them nervous. It's not OK to make your children feel nervous and insecure.

I am very passionate about the words declared in The Family: A Proclamation to the World. "Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity... Husband and wife have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children. "Children are an heritage of the Lord" (Psalms 127:3). Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, to teach them to love and serve one another, to observe the commandments of God and to be law-abiding citizens wherever they live. Husbands and wives—mothers and fathers—will be held accountable before God for the discharge of these obligations."

Children have a right to security and if you're doing anything that makes them feel otherwise, you're not fulfilling your parental duties. There are situations where divorce is necessary and in the best interest of the safety of the children. Life is full of challenges where we have to deal with the consequences of others' poor choices. So I am not saying that anyone who is parenting alone is bad or under God's condemnation. But if you are parenting on your own, do you carefully consider your actions and how they will affect your children? Do you put forth genuine effort into providing the most loving and safe environment possible? Are you patient and cautious in your choices, thinking first and foremost of your children and not of what makes you feel good?

Deciding that you made a poor choice in a spouse is not an excuse to behave badly. The time for that discussion is long past. You knew who they were when you married them. You had concerns, but you foolishly figured "everything will work out" because you loved them. That is not reality and now you must buck up and behave like a responsible adult and do what it takes to honor your marital vows. The preacher didn't say, "for better or for worse, unless you're unhappy, then all bets are off." You need to learn something about commitment, about loyalty, about enduring. God never promised us that life was going to be easy and always super fulfilling. In fact, He told us that it was going to be hard, but that it was our responsibility to make good choices. He loves us and wants us to be happy and has outlined a clear path of how we can achieve that. We just have to be willing to do the work.

And if you're not going to do the work, please, for the love of all children, get an IUD and use a diaphram and wear a condom. Don't put another child through this crap.

Monday, March 9, 2009

The wood is good

Our wood stove has been out of commission for over a week because one of the bricks in the top cracked in half. We weren't certain it was safe to burn without the brick, so we've been using the propane heater. It's centrally located in the hallway and instead of keeping things evenly heated, it comes on and completely roasts you, followed by the whole house getting cold. Plus it's expensive.

So Dan talked to a guy in town who knows about wood stoves and he told him that it's no big deal to burn without the brick because a lot of the old stoves didn't even have bricks in them. It's not as efficient, but it's not dangerous. This guy can get us a new brick for pretty cheap and in the meantime we can go ahead and use the stove. We burned a fire last night and it was SO much better than the propane! It actually kept the house warmer than the propane and it was nice not to be chilly when I got up in the night to nurse Mack. Plus now I can stop worrying about money going out the window every time the propane comes on. Free wood is good! (No snide comments about the cost of the chainsaw injury, thank you very much!)

I was skeptical about the wood stove in the beginning, but I'm a total convert now! When we build a house in a few years (hopefully) we'll definitely be putting in a stove.

I mean, how cool is it that you can make s'mores right in your living room?

My Mom came to visit at the end of January and I thought the girls would get a kick out of making s'mores. I'd been thinking about doing it for awhile and it seemed like the perfect opportunity.

The funny thing is that Lily didn't really want to eat any, she just wanted to roast marshmallows and assemble s'mores for the adults. She said they were too tricky to eat.


Amelia wasn't too impressed with the roasted marshmallows (what's that nasty brown stuff?) but she sure had fun loading the marshmallows on the stick.

The girls had lots of fun with their Grammie. She read tons of stories, with Relly (Cinderella) at the top of the list, being read several times through.

Mack getting the Grammie jiggle treatment.

Mom slept with Amelia in the bottom bunk and the girls enjoyed long snuggles and watching the movie machine with Grammie in the morning. Then we'd finally drag our cans out of bed and make homemade buttermilk pancakes and bacon for breakfast every morning. Mmm...

Good times!