Back in the saddle ..

Since I’ve known the Cowboy .. he’s taught roping.

He’s practiced roping with friends, on occasion.

But I have yet to see him rope.. or heel is what he usually does, in an actual rodeo.

Watching afternoon practice ..

Despite the fact he essentially dropped out of his career as a team roper to get through his divorce a year ago, to be home more and spend as much time as possible with his kids..

He still made the Minnesota Rodeo Association Finals  http://www.mnrodeo.org/ this weekend in Fergus Falls, MN.

Unfortunately…

He didn’t get notice that he qualified, until I had something on the books already for the weekend.

Very bummed about that.

Now … this brings up a dilemma each person/couple/family has to face and make decisions about on their own.  But after years of essentially not worrying all that much about someone else having something on their calendar besides my daughter, that might conflict with my own insane number of commitments .. I wasn’t sure what to do.

I wanted to go..

But at the very least, four other people were relying on me to be not at a rodeo in the middle of nowhere, Minnesota.

Completely torn, I was asked a couple of months ago to make a decision so that everyone knew where I stood and could adjust accordingly.  The Cowboy and I had a long talk .. and for a number of reasons, we decided it was best I kept my current commitment.

“I’ll be roping plenty of times from here on out for you to come watch,” said the Cowboy.

I’m looking forward to it.

And while I’m enjoying the much needed down time alone this weekend in-between commitments..

The kids are with him .. so are his folks.

Selfishly, I am wishing I/we were with them too.

…………….

It is so easy to get caught up in the chaos of a good life .. the opportunities to go and see and do and be a part of .. and there is never a shortage, especially when you live near so many good friends and family.

This weekend however..

Friday night dance after the rodeo ..

…has been a beautiful reminder of how nice it might be..  to not have a calendar completely booked out for the rest of the year.  Or at least time, set completely aside for whatever may come along.  Is it possible?  I don’t know..

But I may just give it a try.

(A Different) Perspective … A Friend Writes.

I’m not sure that my comments to the Cowboy are of any reassurance during weeks like this.

Weeks, where it’s the tail end of the two weeks essentially, without the kids.

I can’t imagine being in his shoes.. or ever putting someone else in the position he’s in.  But I’m increasingly becoming aware of how many people are.  In his shoes.  Parents who essentially are told they should appreciate any time they get to ‘visit’ their children.

And on the flipside, in the position of the other parent in many divorce scenarios.  The parent, given primary placement.  The one who gets most of the time with and control over the kids.  And how that can sometimes look.

It’s been an emotional past couple weeks.

It seems the further out he gets from the divorce and the less he continues to see the kids, with each passing day, month or now year .. the tougher it is for him to feel like he can really be a father to them.  The father he wants and hopes to be, anyway.  A few hours each week sitting in a restaurant because there’s not enough time now to go home or good weather to go to a park and play .. and four weekend days each month, is hardly enough time to get anyone back into a good groove.

Just when dad and kids seem to be settled in and getting reacquainted.. it’s time to pack for the trip back to their other home.

………..

Fortunately, more states are recognizing, through time, experience, and statistics .. the rules need to change.  In not all, but most scenarios.  Where two loving, responsible, protective parents both want to be a part of raising their children, and be present in their lives.

http://www.wctrib.com/event/article/id/90932/

Things will change.  Someday.  As more and more states.  And more and more parents, left on the outside looking in at their children’s lives for no apparent good reason other than a judge’s orders, decide that instead of giving up because nothing will change and it only causes more pain to try .. instead, keep trying.  Because it does matter.  Not just to them, but their kids.  That they are not alone.  And the more they come together and speak with one voice, someone will hear them.

But will it come soon enough for some families to heal.

……….

I mentioned it has been a tough couple weeks.

I can always tell when we’re a week into his time without the kids .. because there is an unshakeable sadness.  No matter what the Cowboy says to me, I know its eating at him.  That he hasn’t seen them.  That if he wants to talk with them, its dictated to him how that has to happen.  Yet the conditions are at times not met on the side giving dictation.

When there is a call, it’s quick.  Then usually .. ‘they’re busy and need to go.’

The few hours he had the chance to spend with them this past mid-week .. for many reasons, was emotionally overwhelming and tough.  And because of the weather, the circumstances and one of the boys crying for his mother, he took them home in heavy frustration and sadness a half hour early.  For a man who would give anything for extra time with his children .. this has all been very trying .. emotionally, physically and spiritually.

Not knowing what else to say .. because really, what can you .. I say, well then, let’s pray.

And, then I add.. “They’re healthy.  Let’s just be grateful they are healthy.  The rest will fall into place.  I don’t know when.  But it will.”

He agrees.  I’m not sure he wholeheartedly believes me.  But for the moment, he agrees.

………..

I wasn’t going to write about this today .. I was going to instead, write about another lesson learned by the Cowboy after spending more time than he’d probably like in the city .. (Because we have some great, entertaining lessons yet to be shared.  Like parking tickets.)

But I was reminded again today of why the health of our children, is above everything else, what is most critical.  I am actually, reminded of it daily.  Through my job, I see families put in situations that would bring any of us to our knees.  I have close friends who have lost a child.  And, who have children with severe disabilities.  I thank God each and every day my own daughter is healthy.  There is sincerely not a day that I take that for granted.

I saw this afternoon, a tweet from a dear friend of mine.  A friend I don’t talk with as much as I’d like anymore.  We’re all busy.  But I see it, and I shudder to think based on the content of the tweet, what might be happening.

I message him, ‘Just seeing this.  What is going on?  Are you all OK?’

He shoots back moments later, ‘We’re OK. This explains:’ and he sends me the following link.

‘Lessons from a young Skywalker:’

http://www.espnmilwaukee.com/common/more.php?m=49&post_id=7074

……….

Again, I’m not sure any of my comments or anyone’s are helpful to the Cowboy.  Reassuring.  Or comforting given the struggles he’s facing.

Only he knows.  And honestly, only he can figure out how to work through this stage of his family’s young .. challenging life.  Through his relationship with himself.  God.  And his faith in both.  Something right now, he’s giving everything he’s got.

……….

A wonderful opportunity presented itself this afternoon ..

The gift of a few extra hours with the kids to kick off the weekend.  The Cowboy got a call asking if he wanted to pick them up early.  No one is asking why.  Mom could have had something else she wanted to do this afternoon and it saved her from postponing or getting a sitter.  Or, she could have genuinely wanted to give them all more time together.

No one’s asking why.  Just celebrating the moments.

And grateful to their mother, for offering them up.

How seldom or how often any of us can ever have the chance to spend time with our kids, to hold them, hug them and be present with them, is such a gift.

Reassurance they are also healthy ..

I’m praying tonight, my friend Jason and his family continue to get nothing but the best news .. and care for their young Skywalker, in the meantime.

Cowboy in the City – Lessons Learned Number Two..

Neither of us can remember exactly what it was we were talking about a few months back … when the Cowboy said something that made me gasp.

“Um, honey … I don’t mean to sound like I’m telling you what to do,” I said.

“But, do you know what that term means?”

A bit taken aback, the Cowboy says, “I guess, but I don’t ever really think about it.  Everyone I know says it.  Why, don’t people here use it?  It just means ….”

Having used the term a few times myself growing up because everyone around me said it as well .. before I really thought about what it meant;

“Not really.  Especially around here.  Can we agree you will be more careful with that?”

………

“Good judgement comes from bad experience.  And most of the time, that comes from bad judgement.” –

The Cowboy found this quote and thought it appropriate in the context of this post.

………

I live in the politically correct capital of the world.

One of them, anyway.  So it is easy to mess up.  It seems near impossible to keep up with the latest words one should use .. or more likely, that you shouldn’t.

It is so politically correct here, I actually felt on my Facebook status update the other night when I posted I thought I might head home and build a snowman after a spring snowstorm .. a snow perfect for packing .. that I should change it to ‘snowperson’ or someone might be offended and correct me.

We laughed about that one..

I’m even a bit apprehensive someone will feel I’m not being pc .. writing about being bc.  Sheesh.

“What do they call Indians here,” he asks last night as we’re talking about all this.  We were hanging out chatting, late again, over the video phone.  “In South Dakota, I’m pretty sure they prefer Indian.  I’m part Indian.  We don’t say, I’m (part) Native American.  That’s how we talk.  Even that is not accepted there?”

My alma mater no longer the Indians.

It may be.  In some parts, anyway.  Others may coil at the sound and tell you you’re wrong to say it.

I’m so sensitized, for many reasons, to not wanting to offend anyone …

That another term the Cowboy uses once in awhile and that I recently heard his grandmother affectionately say to one his boys, hit me as probably a very un-pc term.

I asked him about it..

Jigger?” he replied.  “That’s not a derogatory term.  It’s just a little bug.”

Yep.  Looked it up.  Can be an insect.  (There are several other definitions as well.  None that should be offensive.  Unless you’re referring to someone as say, a shot glass.  Or a fishing lure.)  But it still sounds like it shouldn’t be okay to me when I hear it.  I have never heard anyone use that term until South Dakota.  Around here, we have a lot of other names for kids when they’re doing cute things.
Like, little bugger.  Lil stinker.  Lil .. well, I’ve never heard lil jigger.  But, I’m learning it’s ok.
Learning that while its important to treat others with respect, it’s probably ok to ease up a bit too over fears of offending someone.

Even with good intentions.. Have we taken pc too far?

A lot has been written about the topic.  Just a couple posts I found..

http://www.experience.com/alumnus/article?channel_id=diversity&source_page=editor_picks&article_id=article_115574490604

http://davidhallstrom.articlealley.com/the-act-of-being-politically-correct-has-gone-from-the-sublime-to-the-ridiculous-19236.html

I truly believe most people have a good heart .. and they try to be kind and considerate of others feelings, beliefs and who they are.  They just may not always be up on the latest terms for what they should ever call something.  Or know anything about someone’s religion or culture.  And over concern of being politically incorrect, they refrain from learning or asking or saying anything, out of fear they will offend.

I like this particular post below.  And think the Cowboy would too.  If nothing else, it’s good food for thought.

http://www.wikihow.com/Be-Correct-by-Not-Being-Politically-Correct

There are only a few terms even the Cowboy agrees, should probably be removed from his vocabulary.  But others I’m happy to hear someone not afraid to say.  And he can go right ahead and hang onto.  That reflect who he is.  Where he is from.  And the kind of person he is.   Down to earth.  Straightforward.  Good.  Curious.  Open to whatever is out there.  And willing to change.  Should it be necessary.

He says to me as I’m asking him about this .. “I really like where you live.  I love to visit. But, I’m far more comfortable in central Texas.  Where everyone wears cowboy boots and says whatever the hell they want.  You don’t have to worry about who you’re pissing off.”

He laughs.

Nonchalantly he says in-between our banter, “C’mon you son-of-a-buck,” as he’s waiting for something he’s searching for to come up on his phone.

“I probably swear more than I should,” he looks over at me via the video phone.

He laughs some more.  Then adds..

“But you swear just as much as I do.  If not more.  Maybe that’s something we should talk about … “

Weight …

I don’t usually step on the scale.

As long as I feel good.  My clothes fit and I’m eating right and exercising, I’m pretty content.  I don’t talk, or try not to anyway, about feeling overweight (for me).  Especially around my daughter.

But I stepped on the scale the other morning.  Because, well, lets just say my clothes don’t fit me as well as they used to.  As well as say, even a month ago.  I was pretty sure even before stepping on, that I had about 5 pounds I might want to lose.

You didn't think I'd actually step on it, did you ...

The scale confirmed my suspicions.

……..

People will say ‘you look great’ or ‘you don’t need to lose weight.’  I’m not looking for gratuitous compliments here.  Sincerely.  Overall, I’m happy with myself, my life and my appearance.

But if I could just fit my thighs into that favorite pair of jeans to fit again….

At $200/pair it seems anymore for something cute I’d rather lose weight than buy another pair to fit expanding body parts.

The Cowboy says, ‘Go buy a bigger pair of jeans.  You look good.’

………

We all know when we’re about to fall off that cliff.. a cliff that will be tough if not impossible to climb back up.  We feel it.  I’m pretty sure, actually, that I’ve felt it about every spring now since turning 35.

What’s so special about 35 you might ask?

Ah, you youngster.

It’s like hitting a wall where metabolism is concerned.  Not just my own experience.  But that of many, many a girlfriend.  No one ever told me ..or maybe they did but I didn’t hear.  So I was relatively ill prepared.  Let this be a heads up, my dear daughter.  And anyone else that might be looking at this still young and blissfully eating whatever you want and drinking triple vanilla lattes along with cheese curds or pizza and beer a few late nights each week.  Ahem.  Not that I know anything about that.  (All the health/fitness experts say that’s one of the first things that needs to be moderated in any diet.  Alcohol.  For the record.)  This is not knowledge my mother passed along to me.  And she is no longer around to share what may lie ahead.  It all would have been helpful.

So ..

With 40 around the corner…I’m concerned another wall may be waiting.

I have some work to do.

(Cowboy says, laughing hysterically today as I’m thinking about what pics to post with this.. ‘Want me to take a picture of your gut?’  Um, no.)

……..

My biggest challenge has always been, short of high school, making time for workouts that will do more than maintain where I’m at.  Especially since meeting the Cowboy.  When he is here visiting, the time is precious.  And, the last thing I feel like I should be doing is spending an hour at the gym.

I run my dogs most days of the week anywhere between a mile or three.  I do lunges down the middle of the street.  I’m not afraid to look like a goofball, which I’m sure I do on occasion.  Like, when one of my dogs tripped me while we were running yesterday.  The multiple steps I faltered, tried to regain my footing and ultimately tumbled onto the pavement, had to have been a spectacular sight.  The guy walking down the sidewalk with his dog (the reason one of my dogs decided it was a great idea to lunge in front of me) just stood back and asked, ‘Are you ok?’  I mumbled something along the lines ‘I am fine.  Please, keep walking.’  Then got up, brushed myself off, gave my dog a dirty look – she knew she did me wrong.  And we went on our merry way.  I do pushups on whatever works, the curb or park benches and sit ups at home.  So it’s not like I’m totally slacking.

But the older a woman gets (probably men too but believe men are generally blessed with higher metabolism), I’ve always heard, the tougher it is to take weight off.

……..

I ask the Cowboy this morning .. “What are your fitness goals?  Do you have any?”

He laughs.  He’s in relatively great shape.. he’s hot, actually, I think ..  but he also has a relatively physical job.

He goes back to playing guitar.

My daughter says, “I want to be just like you.  All slim.  And have a waist just like you.”  She’s serious.

Now I’m laughing.

“Seriously,” I say.  “Do you have any fitness goals?  Aren’t we going to run a race together this summer?”

She thinks for a moment.

“I want to learn how to really become a good hip hop dancer.  And, get the dogs to be sled dogs.”

We’re all laughing.  The Cowboy chimes in.

“I would like to be on a running schedule says the Cowboy, 3 times a week at least 1 to 2 miles.”

……….

It’s a good goal.

But if I’m taking off the five and toning up the arms…. (also important.  My daughter last fall pointed out they were a bit, um, not toned) I need to do more.

I’ve got a fall marathon in mind.  Without bigger goals the 5 pounds will become 10, I’m  sure.

While I’m off to a relatively good start.. I hit the gym the other morning for weights and have run the past two days, we missed our run this morning.  Thanks to laundry, getting ready for school and returning phone calls before I had to head off to work.

Perhaps we’ll fit one in before fish fry and a Lake Louie Porter this evening.   Mmmmm.  (Just one though anymore.  Yes.  I have officially become a lightweight.)


Or.. a Winter Skal.

If not, I definitely won’t be stepping back on the scale.  Anytime soon.

Let her cook?

I finally decided we were close enough to trash day yesterday .. to go ahead and dump out some old food.  Which, I hate ever doing.  Wasting food.  And throwing food out.

But when you’re living alone part of the time and still have to shop for others to be with you the other part of the time, it somehow seems inevitable.  Which is why, over the years, I’ve taken to eating out more than I should.

In trying to get back to spending less, eating healthier and being home more .. something I want for myself and that the Cowboy is encouraging me to do as well… I’m trying to get back into this cooking thing.

……

I’ve always loved to cook.  Love looking at recipes.  Love having family and friends over for meals.  I have an extensive collection of favorite cookbooks.  But at the moment, in our last move and in severely trying to downsize, I’ve pulled out only a few from the boxes.

Image

The rest, for now .. sit in storage.

I’m not sure when exactly .. I got so far away from that.  But fairly certain it was as I adjusted to a new life, during my divorce.

Six years later …

My daughter is wanting desperately to learn to cook.   So I’m trying to find the time between getting home late each evening during the week when I have her, homework, taking the dogs out, picking up and getting her to bed.  Which doesn’t leave us much time.  To cook.  Anything but buttered noodles (any pasta), rotisserie chicken and a salad.  (Yes, I know I can throw something in the crock pot.  That would require more advance planning and it just never seems to work out that we actually eat what goes in there.  A lot still gets thrown away.)  We eat a lot of fresh fruit and vegetables.  Again, really no cooking involved.  And on weekends between traveling back and forth to South Dakota, visiting family or friends here, it seems someone else is always the one at the stove.

SO… when I’m not looking:

Image

(Sorry for the close-up.)

She ‘cooks.’

Grapes.  Bananas.  Swedish Fish.  Apples.  Some sort of sugary sauce.  Pretty sure that’s what I ended up throwing out yesterday after it sat in the refrigerator for a couple days.  (No garbage disposal or it would’ve gone out much sooner.)

At 10 years old .. she whips up whatever concoction she can, whenever I turn my back or give her a few minutes alone now, while I run errands or walk the dogs.

No stove though.  One of the rules.

So she gets creative.

And she loves it.  She will also usually try and stomach eating whatever it is she’s ‘cooked’ just to prove a point.  That she’s ready to learn.

……

In writing this – I’ve learned its not only a rite of passage by doing a little research, it’s healthy in so many ways for a child to learn to cook.  Especially now that she’s learning fractions in math, cooking might be a great way to give her practical application.  Hadn’t thought about that until this moment.  And perhaps I should have done more to bring her into the kitchen years ago.

From eHow Family:

What Children Learn from Cooking

Teaching children to cook is not only a valuable life skill, but it incorporates other important skills as well. When children cook, they have a chance to practice math skills, work on following directions, learn to work with an adult and get a sense of accomplishment. Children as young as 3 can begin learning to cook.

  1. Skills for Younger Cooks (under 5)

    Reading Aged Children (5-7)

    School Aged (7 and up)

    Significance

    Fun Fact

    Warning

I waffle back and forth between wanting to fuss at her for wasting so much food (and money in the process) that would have been part of her school lunch or our dinner.  And, allowing her the space to be creative.  To cook. And I know it’s in her best interest to teach her.

So while I look for the time, I send her to look for the dish soap.  Because if she’s going to learn to cook ..

Picking up good vibrations …

Bet some of you will never hear that tune the same way again..

OK.

So this isn’t a topic the Cowboy and I have discussed much.  I’m not sure we will .. either.  You never know.  But at the very least, we got a good laugh out of what is prompting this post.

(I’ve come to realize in writing about our conversations, that we laugh a lot.  Which is just a really good thing in life.)

*This would be the other half of the text message I got the other night from a girlfriend.. the one I referenced at the top of my last post about Cowboy Church.  You know the second part of the two hilarious things happened this week that I feel I simply must share with you, especially in light of your blog topics this past week’ she wrote.

Three things to keep in mind here:

1.)  I didn’t include this in yesterday’s post because .. well, it just didn’t feel quite right to put this one in the same conversation as church.

2.)  She sent this the same night I shared a girlfriends recap of a conversation she had with her son, after learning he had apparently at one point, walked in on her and her husband having sex.  So this is relevant.

3.)  This whole project.. writing something or at the very least trying, each day for a year as a gift I hope someday to my daughter .. one might think I shouldn’t include this.  But no one ever had this talk with me.  Not until I was like, way old.  About the topic at all.  And it’s probably not good to be totally ignorant.  Like I was about far too many things coming from a small town where you just didn’t talk about anything even remotely risqué.  Or parents that went there either.  I vividly remember the first time a girlfriend started talking about her ‘rabbit’.  I had no clue what she was talking about.  We got the best laugh.  After I came out of shock.  Being blissfully ignorant has its perks, too.  I think.  But, a lot of my girlfriends and even my guy friends are stunned at how non-versed in the following, I am.  Should I admit this?  I don’t know.  But it is what it is.

Oh, and I should probably add this …

4.)  Disclaimer:  going on is not for the faint of heart.  Or anyone that might consider themselves a prude.  And don’t judge me on this.  I’m just relaying the text and trying to do what I always do for my friends.. either be a sounding board, or help them find some answers.  By the way, this is a $15 billion industry and apparently growing.

http://www.cnbc.com/id/43839344/Sex_Toy_Sales_Surge

So someone’s talking (ahem, using) about all of this.  Whether you admit it or not.

5.)  I usually love to add photos.  I think it makes any writing that much more rich and vivid.  But .. there will be none today.

……..

The text stated:

“Secondly, no sex going on here unfortunately for my kids to walk in on.”  She is a couple years out now from her divorce.

“But,” she adds …

“Does anyone want to offer up suggestions on how I should explain the special item that my 11 year old found in my bed that I forgot to put away?!  I said we would discuss the ‘pink thing’ in the near future!  I am still giggling about the confused look on her face!”

She’s wondering what advice I/we might have for her on that one.

Surprisingly, there seems more advice on the world wide web for this topic than the child walking in on sex discussion.

I personally got nothing for ya, my dear friend.  Other than maybe don’t forget to put it away next time.  And find a good bedside table with a drawer that locks.

One resource I love to turn to for insight every now and then .. is Your Tango.  If you’ve never checked out their brutal honesty on all things relationship:

http://www.yourtango.com/200928406/my-son-found-my-vibrator

Here’s another person’s blog on the topic that almost had me on the floor .. laughing, here a few seconds ago.  I’m not sure how good it is, but there is specific language offered to help a parent and child through the situation:

http://notafraidtoask.blogspot.com/2008/02/vibrator-vibrator-whos-found-vibrator.html

Otherwise, I was just with an old classmate last weekend who now essentially works in that whole arena.  She has built a career out of doing direct sales for a company called Pure Romance.  So no holds barred.  When I mentioned your text to her on Saturday, it quickly became a very open conversation with about 8 people standing around us.  SHE is apparently very comfortable having this conversation and has suggestions.  So let me connect you.

In the meantime, I feel like I need to go to church.  Or something along those lines.

I’ve learned since the last post on Cowboy Church, there are apparently plenty of options nearby.  It seems you don’t need a rodeo.  To be on the road.  Or sitting in the stands somewhere.  Cowboy Church can be also found, close to home.  I’ve learned quickly, many feel we have great options nearby.

Proclaiming proudly …

I’m not sure if I feel like celebrating .. or breaking down crying over the fact my baby girl is not at all a baby anymore.

“I got my first zit,” she excitedly tells the Cowboy over the phone last night.

I’m not even sure we’ve shared that yet with her dad.

I hope so, though.  Because in a very weird way, it feels like that is a major milestone.  And I know she’s been on the phone with him at least a couple times in the past 24 hours.  I tell her we’ll get her some things so that she can start taking better care of her skin and face.

……

This discovery comes not long before we head out the door.  And because we had some time to kill before going to a movie .. we stopped at the mall.  I haven’t gone for myself in a very long time, so I was curious to stop in a few stores that I used to like to frequent.  See what might be new for spring.  And while I didn’t see anything that appealed to me, my daughter did.

Not little girls shoes ..

“Is it okay if I try on this pair of shoes?” she asks of an adorable pair of red kitten heels.

I laugh and say, “I’m sure it is.”

I didn’t think they would actually fit her.  Last I knew she was maybe a size 4 shoe at best.  And measuring below my shoulders.  What happened in the past week?

“C’mon.. let’s go,” I say.  A bit flustered at how much she’s grown.

“Mom….” she says as she sees a coat on the way out she really likes.  She asks me to hold her jacket while she takes off her ski coat and tries on a misses black leather jacket with a fur collar.

“I LOVE this jacket, mom,” she says.

Great, I’m thinking to myself.

“Okay.. well, when you can save up, we’ll look at getting it for you.”

…….

It’s all part of a wonderful series of changes happening right now.  Changes she is celebrating and wanting to talk a lot about.  Very different from what I remember wanting to do when I was growing up.  I dreaded any changes.  Rarely were those things talked about when I was a child.  Not at home.  And not amongst friends.  Or relaying to the world.  Especially a zit.

But she’s pretty happy about it.  So I guess I’m sharing it too …

A day late because my girl who is growing up .. crawled into my lap late the other night as I sat on the couch catching up on the video phone with the Cowboy.  After sharing the big news about her zit, and hanging up to go put her back to bed.. I decided, it wasn’t much longer she’d want to curl up on my lap, or that I could hold her.

We both fell asleep there …