Home Office

The Cowboy told me at least two years ago now if not three .. this was shortly after we first met but well after we knew this was such a good thing .. that if I would consider a move to South Dakota, he wanted me to have freedoms I wasn’t able to enjoy in the past. That of a flexible life and schedule. A career where I could pursue any number of my passions and do so from the solitude of our acreage or wherever else my work might take me. He and his dad would build me a small office, a space all my own out here on the acreage. It wouldn’t take any time at all to put up, he told me. His dad builds steel buildings and this would be a quick and easy project. All I needed to do was say the word.

Years later, families combined under one roof in one state and some long overdue repairs and remodeling done to the house to better accommodate us all, the office has now become our focus. I couldn’t be more grateful.

Before the snow started to fly last November, we re-roofed our old red barn with used tin found on Craigs List (I say we, loosely. The Cowboy and his dad tackled the majority of that project. So glad it’s over. So is the Cowboy’s mom who couldn’t stand to be over here watching her husband and son 30 feet in the air working on it.) Since then, the cold winter kept any work in the hayloft at bay. But we are feverishly back at it.

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We recently found more cool, old tin from the Stockyards in Sioux Falls for some of the interior walls.

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Sioux Falls Stockyard Steel Panels

And a farmer just down the road has been planning to burn his old livestock barn to the ground. We’ve gone and pulled boards to use for trim and another interior wall.

Insulation has made the loft remarkably comfortable and drywall is going up where barn wood and steel panels aren’t. I’ve saved an old light fixture to use in the space. Friends offered to part with two old windows from their grainery, we’re using those too. We found the coolest old tailgate to turn into a desk. I talked with a friend tonight who’s an auctioneer and let them know we’re looking for a couple of old wood cabinets I might use for storage.

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It may not be in the time-frame we initially talked about. But the delay allowed us some wonderful opportunities to do things differently than we might have otherwise and make use of a great existing space. It also allowed me to start building a business that is now ready for a little more elbow room.

For each step of this journey - with the Cowboy, with my daughter, our families, friends, even my ex, my career, faith and life – incredibly humbled and grateful.

 

“Just Trust”

Love all, trust a few.

The word, trust, has come up quite a bit for us today. The Cowboy and I had a conversation about trust first thing this morning in regard to a project we’re working on together with someone – and that what we’re counting on from this other party, will happen. Trust came up again later today in regard to an article I’m working on, that I’ll do right by the people involved in it because it’s a genuinely sensitive issue.

In the midst of another interesting discussion tonight. The words, “you just need to trust .. ” were part of a lengthier text we received a few moments ago.

There are reasons, that after years .. heck even days of working with someone, living with someone, knowing someone, you just know that you can trust that person. Wholeheartedly.

Or, that you can’t. Sometimes trust goes away with one incident. Other times, no matter how many chances you give a person, no matter how much you love them or want to believe things will be different this time around, trust is just hard to come by. Why? Because they’ve shown you time and again they can’t take responsibility for their own actions or tell the truth, they’ll screw you over for fun, for spite, to get ahead or .. for really no good reason at all other than a lack of empathy, if given the chance.

Trust – and respect – need to be earned. Not demanded. And I’m amazed anymore at how often people feel these two things are a God given right. Mistrust, more often than not, doesn’t just happen. For no good reason. Heads up.

Can it be earned back? Absolutely. Do people change? Of course. But trust is a biggie. And re-gaining it doesn’t happen overnight. Or, just because someone tells you you should.

There isn’t a morning that goes by I don’t wake and put every ounce of trust I have in the Lord that people all over the world, and in our own circles, will do right by each other. When that doesn’t happen, which is often the case, I trust there is a reason we have yet to learn. And we try again tomorrow.

Sunday

It’s quiet, the kids are gone this weekend and everything that is usually in motion – sits very still. There are a lot of sounds on weekends like these, that we really miss. But instead of dwelling on what’s missing, the Cowboy and I like to take these opportunities to reconnect and get a lot of work done around the acreage we might feel guilty doing, otherwise.

So … counting the blessings that do surround us this Sunday. The sun is shining. There is a gentle, warm breeze blowing. This is a beautiful spring in South Dakota.

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The snow is quickly melting.

Not sure it matters though. Another storm getting set to blow in tonight.

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Goat tying clinic

The girls can not wait for rodeo season to arrive. They caught the bug when we entered them into their first rodeo late last season here in South Dakota. They’ve been ancy to get back out into the arena, ride barrels and poles, rope and compete ever since.

While we’re still a ways away..

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This past weekend the two took part in their first goat tying clinic. We weren’t sure what to expect.. if they’d like it or not, how their horses would do, if they’d catch on quickly. The days were long and the indoor arena was colder than the temperatures outside.

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But a good time was had by all. They made some new friends, they got it, so did their horses and they are both now determined to work on improving their own best times. And, see the rest of the kids – a fun bunch from the clinic – again soon.

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Digging Out

Digging out.

Thought it an appropriate title given the day, the week and past couple of months.

Winds from the south today blew an incredible amount of snow over our driveway. The school bus this morning nearly got stuck. After clearing it twice, we made a quick run into town and got stuck trying to get back in.

Drifted In

Drifted In

The Cowboy at 8am had a full day of shoeing appointments. By 9, his two morning appointments had cancelled on him due to the weather .. by 1 o’clock, he had to cancel the remaining two .. well, because he couldn’t get to them. The driveway had drifted so high and deep with heavy snow, we couldn’t get in or out.

Reinforcements arrived as they always do, I’m not sure what we’d do without the Cowboy’s dad. Well, we’d probably have to buy a bigger tractor. I digress..

The drive, for now, is clear. But tomorrow is supposed to bring more snow, more wind and most likely more drifts. I’m not complaining. Just stating the facts. It’s been a long winter for many across the country. 

But we’re digging out from more than the weather.

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Old Farmhouse Remodel

The past couple months have meant a massive, as cheap as we could do it, DIY home remodel that we are finally done with (thanks in large part to the Cowboy’s folks and two family friends. Without the four of them, we’d still be plugging away. Serious.). Well, mostly done. There are a few little things yet to be taken care of. Regarless, a sense of calm and normalcy has once again occupied our home. In fact, probably more-so than ever. Our space, once cramped, dark, dingy and definitely not energy efficient .. is now warm, inviting, open, air-sealed, clean and bright.

“I really love our house, now. Have I told you that?” the Cowboy has said to me almost daily the past couple weeks. I tell him, I do too. I’ve always known a few tweaks would give this old house with great bones a huge facelift. And boy, has it.

Shared Parenting for blog

South Dakota Shared Parenting Movement

We’ve been digging out from underneath all of the time and effort put into advocacy on shared parenting legislation and reform in South Dakota. A major milestone was reached this year, a compromise bill was reached between parties that have been foes on the issue in the past. That bill now sits on the Governor’s desk awaiting signature to become law. While that might mean a moment for a breather, it’s only a moment. The bill is a baby step in the right direction. There is still though – so much more to be done, to be changed, including public opinion as well as an overall general awareness of how flawed the current system is, and not just in South Dakota. Today could not have been a more glaring example of some of the issues that are necessary to draw attention to and address, next.

And then there’s work. I’ve been blessed with an incredible opportunity to build my career right now, around my life. I don’t know what I’ve done to deserve some of the freelance opportunities that have come in, but the wonderful partnerships and jobs have been a ton of fun and an honor. I am so grateful.

But, after working virtually every spare moment over the past two months on our house, I’m also now digging out from a pretty hefty workload that’s been in large part, postponed and pushed back. And I’m digging through the many, many topics I’ve said to myself over the past two months .. I can’t wait until I have time to write about this.

I just wish the tractor could help me dig out of this one..

Can’t get along with the other parent? On Shared Parenting…

Chances are you’ve been fighting for awhile and still sharing parenting duties while at home, and still married or ‘together’.

Chances are at some point during your school age years you were assigned a group project with a partner you didn’t like, didn’t hang out with, didn’t care to work with, but you went to school, played nice, got the job done and most likely your grade wasn’t too bad. And then maybe .. just maybe you started to say hello when you’d pass in the hallway and perhaps even become friends at some point.

Chances are, you don’t get along well with someone at work but you both still go in and get the job done everyday.

Chances are as you’ve gotten older, you’ve also gotten wiser. We can only hope. Time has healed old wounds over something you can now hardly recall and you’ve realized there are bigger things in life to worry about than harboring anger over old, insignificant issues.

Chances are, if you can’t figure out a way to get along with someone, you can figure a way around it and still do it well. That is, if you care to try, knowing the reason you’re trying is what’s best for everyone involved.

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I’m rather disgusted and quite frankly tired of hearing adults that I want to think are relatively level headed and well educated, say when it comes to shared parenting, that if the parents can’t get along (this is at the time of divorce – mind you – when custody and placement decisions are being made and emotions are often most high) then shared parenting isn’t possible. Shared parenting meaning maximum time with both parents if not 50/50. Whatever would be in the best interest of the child. And just about every social science study over the past 20 years shows as equal time as possible with both parents is in the best interest of the child, assuming both parents are fit parents.

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I’m not quite sure I get it, and this may just me, because I really don’t see a reason for ongoing conflict. Or despising anyone. Especially when it comes to family situations. If there’s a problem, define and fix it. Get over it. Grow from it. Deal with it. Like an adult. And keep your kids out of it when it comes to what you and your ex still have to work out. While it may be good for kids to see parents sorting through a heated discussion, a debate or a disagreement in a healthy way so they learn emotional intelligence skills as they grow, they don’t need to be put in the middle of your own issues with your own bruised ego, see that you can’t get over being ‘wronged’ or whatever the issue may be.

A question posed by KELO television to its viewers after airing a piece on shared parenting and a bill moving through the South Dakota state legislature right now:

“There is a major push in Pierre this year to pass a law for shared parenting, but can this method of custody work in this state?”

Sincerely, you have to be kidding me. Are parents in South Dakota that unlike parents in other states where this works? Genuine shared parenting – where it’s done, accepted and quite honestly, now promoted – is overall shown to decrease conflict over time and is shown to be better for kids. In any state. This doesn’t somehow stop at the state line of any given state. Unless…  are parents in South Dakota just that much more hard headed and with conviction they don’t want it to work? This conviction not limited to just parents? The comments coming from so called ‘family court’ officials seem unbelievably ignorant to me if you’ve had any conversations or done any research outside the four walls of your respective office. Research done on this topic and covering many families is broad based and not limited to any one state. There seems a deliberate attempt in South Dakota to maintain a system that is alienating of fit, capable and willing parents – most often men but also women. And detrimental to children.

This is nowhere near “in the best interest of any child.”

Bauserman in 2002 and Melli and Brown in 2008 found that inter­parental conflict decreases over time in equal or shared parenting arrangements and increases in sole physical custody arrangements; interparental cooperation increases over time in shared custody arrangements and decreases in sole physical custody arrangements.”

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There is no reason shared parenting can’t work. It does work. In many states. In many places. In many homes. It can work and it does work should two good people choose. Even if one doesn’t choose, without good cause, why should those parents be the one then awarded primary placement? Parents, get over yourself and try. Be open to it. If it doesn’t work.. ?

Worst case scenario: you find yourself in the same situation you’re already in, your kids aren’t doing well and you’re back with family court officials asking for a change in physical placement. Right now this already happens due to any number of reasons – parental alienation, the non-custodial parent fighting for more time. Meantime your kids are confused, not feeling great about their situation in either home and wishing things were different.

Best case scenario: you both, as parents of your children, recognize your kids need something different for them to grow, heal and feel they are getting the best of both of you. And so you work it out. With or without the help of an attorney. It’s civil. It’s cheaper. You all come out better in this situation. You earn trust. Your kids are amazed and find newfound respect for you. And you both get to look in the mirror everyday and feel damn good about the situation you’ve created for your children. That is .. if you genuinely love your children and truly want what is best for them.

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Include the other parent. Allow your children to love their other parent. Share information about school, medical decisions, pictures, the other half of who your child is with the other parent so your children, those beautiful little lives the two of you brought into this world TOGETHER, can somehow still feel whole in a situation you’ve created for them living now, apart. Work together.

It is what’s best.

Chances are … you can make it work. You – and the myriad of family court officials worried more about their matching federal funds for child support shrinking than what is truly in the best interest of the child – just have to be willing to try.

If you’re not, say what you want about anyone else in this situation. But what does that say about you.