It all comes back to .. (finishing some thoughts)

“Sometimes the best thing you can do as a parent, is keep your mouth shut.  My mother just listened .. and let me talk.  What a gift that was.” – Diane Keaton this morning, on the Today Show

……………….

What are the most important lessons your mother taught you?

……………….

I have seen the topic quite a bit recently in the news .. especially as we approach Mother’s Day.  I’ve been asked that particular question by friends recently as well.  And, it is a question I have been pondering myself, always have, but more and more as I work to navigate the ever changing waters that are motherhood.

Especially through divorce.

I have been trying to write for the past week, without much success, about some of the challenges facing us at the moment.

Much of it is relatively small in the grand scheme of things ..

 .. like making sure we’re out the door each morning in time to get to school on time.  Or .. navigating the increasing mood swings she’s having as she heads toward her tween years.  (This will be fun to write about).  Responding – or not to the occasional tantrum (of which we have not had one since that dreadful first night of spring break).  Listening to her constant push for a later bedtime as she gets older and balancing that with her need to get enough sleep.  Listening to her ask for anything that means more responsibility.  Yet struggling with how some of the most basic things she needs to do and is reminded of, she can’t somehow seem to get done.  Her being upset with me as I ask her to leave the cats alone and instead focus on her homework.  Not allowing any talking back and providing appropriate consequences when she does.  Keeping track of my jewelry, clothes or shoes ..as she can now fit into most of them… stuff like that.

I realized only this morning, just how similar a size we now are .. when I grabbed her rainboots to run out to the car.

And they fit.

As she grows and things are changing rapidly, some of these conversations and reflections will be easy and somewhat fun to write about.  And for her to have to reflect upon.

The problem is ..

There are bigger issues and conversations happening behind the scenes right now that are tough.  And are very big picture.  And that should stay behind the scenes, for now.

Especially because, we all know, that even in marriage parents don’t see eye to eye.

So what do you do, what is best to do, when it comes to divorce.  And your child’s future.  When you have two separate homes.  And two very strong, well meaning opinions that can’t quite merge.

…………….

Going back to the original question above, one many seem to be asking in their lives at this particular moment:

I believe the best advice I ever got from my own mother .. that I am relying on to get me through some of the smaller challenges of the day to day and of raising a child .. never came through actual words.

It came through her smile.  And her laughter.  Her ability to do both in the face of chaos.  And as Diane Keaton so eloquently stated this morning about her own mother, it was my mom’s ability to listen and respond in a way that, even if it was unintentional at the time, would ultimately help me take responsibility for my own actions and grow.

I’m not sure laughter and a smile are going to help on some of what is before us ..

I’m hoping there will be occasions however, where it won’t hurt either.  And in the meantime, I look forward to always working on my listening skills.

 

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Cactus Jack …

Manawa, WI.

Roping clinic of the season #2.

Often, when people with horses .. or cowboys travel to any sort of competition or rodeo .. they sleep in their horse trailer.  Or a hotel nearby.

We awoke this morning at a B&B.

The Cowboy had no idea this is where we would be staying nor has he ever stayed at a B&B.  He pulled into town yesterday and one of the other guys in town for the clinic, a good friend of his, had booked it for us.

Think though, that he enjoyed it, for what little time we spent there.  Very nice couple.  Beautiful home.  Cozy accommodations.  Great breakfast.  Couple cats and a dog roaming the house.  Makes us feel right at home.  (Although their dog and cats appear much better behaved than mine, so not quite the same, but close.)

Anyway, we woke this morning, grabbed a cup of coffee and flipped on the Today Show for a few minutes before breakfast.

And on comes …

Sweet little, Cactus Jack.

(Following link isn’t the Today Show’s interview, but couldn’t find their official version online yet, so here’s just a link to the story.)

http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/technology/2012/04/cactus-patch-puppy-up-for-adoption/

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“I got caught up in a cactus when I was a kid,” says the Cowboy.  “And no one ever felt bad for me and put me on tv.”

We both bust out laughing.

“Are you serious?” I asked him.

“I am.  Instead of Cactus Jack, I could have been known as Cactus (his name),” he says chuckling.

“How the heck did that happen,” I pried for details.  “And, where is my computer?  This, I need to write about.”

Apparently he was rolling down a hillside at his grandfather’s ranch in western South Dakota, in the Black Hills.  Something he and his brothers had done on occasion.  And this particular day, he happened unfortunately .. upon a patch of cactus.

“No one was there to help pick them out of my face,” he said.  Kind of pouty.

We are both now laughing somewhat hysterically.  Trying to keep some level of quiet given we are at the B&B which doesn’t seem to be all that soundproof and it’s early.   “I had to pick them out one by one all by myself.”

While a painful memory, time has healed all cactus wounds.  And this morning’s story on so many levels, while very sweet, (you really should go watch it) gave us a good laugh.

Off to the clinic.

It all comes back to being a mom ..

It’s been kind of a rough week on the home front for a few reasons.

One, I’m pretty hard on myself when I don’t feel like I’ve been the best mom I can be.

Two, sometimes so are others.  Hard on you, that is.  Certain that – if put in your shoes they could live your life and do the job better.

Three, it’s been an insanely busy week.  One where I’ve had much more on my plate than usual.  And usual is already ridiculous by most people’s standards.  On top of it, I haven’t felt well.  I do believe my nose is bleeding at the moment from blowing it so much, darn this cold/sinus infection/whatever it is.  So I’m sure I’m looking good to boot.

I sincerely don’t mean in any way to complain.

Everyone around me is sick.  Busy and hard on themselves I think at times, knowing if they had more time to do it all, they could do any of it better.  Some, I know are far more sick and challenged than I am at the moment so I try to rise everyday thanking the good Lord for whatever level of health I do have.

Just stating the facts.

But, everything this week:  event-wise, situation-wise, health-wise and otherwise, has come back to the whole issue of parenting for me and what I want for myself and my (and my ex’s) daughter.

Big picture stuff.

And big picture can be tough when you and your spouse or ex or whoever else might be in the picture .. can’t seem to ever get on the same page when it comes to even the little things.

(It sure is interesting, though trying to get it all worked out.  Thoughts to be shared perhaps, later.  For now, the Cowboy and I are off to solve the world’s problems over beer and a fish fry.  Isn’t that where all good problems are solved?)

Why thumbing a ride tough for some team ropers ..

There is inherent risk in almost any sport.

Concussions playing football or soccer.  Groin/hamstring pulls/shin splints or tendonitis for runners.  Falling on the ice curling and cracking your head.  Tennis elbow.   Rotator cuff.  Catching the ball with your body not your glove.  Sprains, strains .. stray balls hit your way playing golf.  Or my girlfriends and I drinking too much over the course of 18 holes.  It can all hurt.  You get the drift …

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I mentioned yesterday I wanted to spare my thumbs until I had practiced roping enough to feel confident I could keep them?

……………

I’m not sure how long we had been dating that I noticed the HUGE scar around the Cowboy’s thumb.

“What happened,” I gasped.

“Oh,” he says nonchalantly.  “There are a lot of team ropers minus a thumb.”

And he laughs.

…………

The cowboy nearly lost his thumb, oh .. ‘probably 10 years ago’ he tells me, in Sydney, Iowa at a big team roping competition.

Why is this a common injury among team ropers?

Those who have done it, know.  Those who haven’t ever roped but want to try, should know.  And the rest of us, well it’s just useless trivia perhaps.  But I think it’s interesting enough to warrant its own post as we head into another weekend of clinics.

Ropers do something they call, dally.  Which is when they take the rope and wrap it around the saddle horn after they have either headed or heeled the steer.  I think I’m describing that right, anyway..

There is a piece of rubber around the horn (usually a piece of inner tube that’s been cut to size) and that is what makes the rope stick.

http://www.ehow.com/how_8240541_do-dally-team-roping.html

You dally because you either have a four or five hundred pound steer you are trying to turn for your partner to grab its hind legs, or because you’ve got the hind legs and you’re wrapping up your run and that dally and pull is what stops the clock.

The goal is, to not get any fingers caught up in the mix.

But the Cowboy tells me, “When you pull your slack and you take a wrap you have coils in that hand.  If you let go of that ..” OR, “Sometimes you get your thumb caught in when you’re cinching the rope down tight around the saddle horn..” OR, “You put a little twist in the rope and it gets caught going about 30 mph..”

POP goes the thumb.

Like this guys (Story from KBOI2.com):  Idaho team roper competing despite loss of thumb http://tinyurl.com/c28p2ct

The Cowboy says, “When you’re in a storm .. When things aren’t going right and you know you’re in trouble, you’re taught to let go.  But when you’re roping for a big prize and things are moving fast, you don’t always have time to think.”

The Cowboy (knock on wood) still has both thumbs.  But, he says, he’s probably got 5 or 6 friends that are missing theirs.

Like most other athletes though, with any given sports injury .. this particular cowboy along with every other thumbless friend, has gotten right back on that horse.

Is back in the box.

And is giving .. another nod.

Holding onto my thumbs, for now .. (catch up post from the weekend)

I love learning something new each day.  I love getting my hands dirty, getting involved, putting myself in situations that challenge me and make me think about who I really am and what I am capable of or able to do.

But there are also many times where I thoroughly appreciate learning something through the eyes of others and sharing their stories.

……………

The owner of the ranch hosting the Cowboy’s roping clinic had this past Sunday asked if I wanted to ride as they were all roping in the arena, and said it’d be a favor to him if I’d run one of his.

So I did.  A little bit.

And it didn’t take long for the Cowboy to ask a question I knew would be coming.

“Want to chase a steer?” he says to me.

He’s been after me to give roping a try .. which I’d love to.  And I’ve tried my hand at it, very meagerly, on the ground, a few times.

But I’m thinking I need like a year or two, where I can take off of work entirely and do nothing more than rope, to have all that much fun with it.  And more importantly, not injure anyone including myself.

It’s an incredibly acquired skill.  And while I consider myself blessed to be able to pick up most things quite easily…

This is one sport where I’m concerned I might lose a thumb.  (Which isn’t all that uncommon, apparently.)  Get completely tossed and break a limb.  Maim or plow over the steer because I didn’t better ‘steer’ my horse.  Or quite possibly, severely injure the person I would otherwise be roping with.  Like throw the rope around them .. and pull.

That .. would .. be .. bad.

“No thanks,” I replied to the Cowboy kind of chuckling under my breath.

The horse I was on would have loved nothing more than to rope that day, too and he was trying to let me know in no uncertain terms he was ancy to get to work doing what all his buddies were.  All he wanted to do is run.  Fast.  And chase more than the air I was giving him up and down the other side of the arena in-between the guys running the steers.

(All my own horse ever wants to do is walk, maybe trot.  She fights me to get her to lope.  But we’re working on that.  It would help if I would get out to ride her more often.  That’s a whole other story.)

“C’mon,” said the Cowboy.  “Just chase one out, see what it feels like, you don’t have to even have a rope” he added, as he walked me over and into the ‘box’.  I tried backing Roper in, kind of.  Didn’t feel good about it.  And walked him out.

“Not ready for that,” I nervously smiled and said to the Cowboy.  He laughed.

…………….

‘What is it, about roping that has so many people seemingly addicted to it,’ I asked the Cowboy Sunday night after we had both returned home, my daughter was asleep in bed and I had originally sat down to write this.

“It’s competitive,” he replied.  “And it’s kind of addicting.  Rodeo is addicting.  The people, the competition.  The gambling.  It’s like gambling, only you have some control over it.”

He laughed.

“Well, in theory you do.  Have control over it.  You put the money up and you win if you do well.  But you have two horses, two cowboys and one steer.  A lot can go wrong with that.  But if it goes right, it’s great.”

The Cowboy used to practice two to three hours a day .. and have a ranking most others strive for, I believe.

While he’s removed himself the past couple years through life changes from the rodeo circuit for the most part .. and says he doesn’t miss the 10 hour drive to get somewhere, the money it takes on gas and to enter, having to win and knowing if he didn’t the truck payment wouldn’t get made that month ..

He still loves the sport.

And says one of his favorite things now, is helping others learn.

Learn how to get along better with their horse .. how to use their rope better .. how to win more when they do enter.

This past weekend must have been a win for everyone .. because there’s already an invite for next year’s clinic.  Same time .. same place ..

Next clinic:  next weekend in Wisconsin.

(And I’m thinking I might put down the camera long enough to try a little ground work with the rope, get going on that yearlong or lifelong project to learn this sport, myself.)

Rainy kickoff ..

We’ve both been on the road and thawing out from too much time in the cold and the rain .. so I haven’t had a chance to really type much.  Or very well, anyway.  And I’m about to start working to get the kiddos fed while the guys get out the door so – just a few quick observations from the past 24 hours.

……………….

I’m not sure how long he’s been holding clinics..

But for quite a few years now, ‘twelve years maybe’ he says as I ask him this morning, the Cowboy travels to wherever he’s asked or hired to go, and he hosts roping clinics.

We are in Minnesota this weekend for his first clinic of 2012 .. and while all it’s done is rain since we arrived, the guys are making the most of it.

Since it’s at a dear friend of the Cowboys .. in fact, the first weekend we ever met in person, he was staying here to hang out and rope .. we’re all in tow.  His kids.  My daughter.

While the kids love to ride and try their own hand at roping when they go with their dad .. yesterday, we spent a lot of time on ground, running around.  Driving around in the Gator.  Chasing the dogs.

And at the mall.  While usually the two of them are happy to stay and throw their own rope, they preferred going to the mall where it was warm and dry .. and there are lots of fun rides.

The guys stayed and played in the rain …

We’re all hoping for better weather today .. but everyone is getting ready to roll rain or shine.

I have been so determined to write each day I haven’t spent near enough time looking at the incredible lives and work of so many others out here writing. WordPress today posted an article on 8 Gorgeous Nature Blogs .. I’ve only gotten through two and already, huge fan. Fans of all things west, here’s one fun to check out…