The Email

Who waits until late on a Friday to send out really not great news?

Well, a  lot of people do. After working in the news business for decades, I’ve realized that’s actually when most bad news is typically delivered. Press releases often go out right after the closing of the typical Friday business day (or whatever day it might be). It’s an easy out. If there is one. And it happens so that none of the decision makers can be contacted for comment until Monday and it helps delay having to deal with any fallout. Unless one is relentless in pursuing good sources, has an ‘in’ with those decision makers or you track down someone who’s been affected by the decisions and usually they’re searching for you, wanting to talk, you’re hard pressed to get your story.

I’m not good at waiting until Monday with questions I have about bad decisions made on a Friday. When I have questions, I try to go to the source in any situation as best I can and get answers. Not to be a pain, or create conflict. But to simply get answers.

I hung up the phone after talking with the Cowboy here a couple of weeks ago now. And I called our attorney for his thoughts …

“I don’t know. I really have never seen anything like this. I’m shocked by his decision,” he said. Then he added, “What don’t I know? What sort of history might you have with this judge that I’m not aware of?” he said.

——–

I caught up with a girlfriend early yesterday to go for a ride. She was off the hook to go out and help cut silage for the day – they had some unexpected help. I had enough work in front of me to last a 12 hour day. But I got a ‘please please please please please’ message from her. I couldn’t pass it up. The day was beautiful. Perfect, actually. We all know days like this are numbered as we head toward another South Dakota winter where the wicked winter winds that blow across the prairie make long rides relatively unbearable.

Barn cat

Barn kitty out soaking up the morning sun

Plus, time in the saddle is great to clear your head.

We also hadn’t had a chance to catch up in weeks. She was dying to know what was in the email I last wrote about. She was frustrated I hadn’t followed up yet with another post on what had happened.

“It’s best, while everything is still ongoing, to not say much of anything,” I told her.

IMG_7963

 

It’s why I haven’t written much now for over a year. It’s what our attorney feels is best. He’s probably right.

My problem with that is, and I said this to her … the situation we’re in and that so many others are as well, has just about everyone afraid to talk. If you do, too much is at stake. You don’t ever want to say anything that might piss off a judge who could possibly be ruling on your case. Or any of their buddies on the bench. Because they do talk. They do keep an eye on what you are doing. And they do in turn, have absolute power to change the entire course of your life and on top of that, make you pay. Literally. In so many ways. Regardless of what actual facts in the case may be and the law.

Unless someone knows. Or digs. Or isn’t afraid to pursue what is lawful and based on fact. Or share their story. More people need to share their stories, and it is happening across the country. Because it’s time.

In the meantime, we are quite certain the fact we’ve (more the Cowboy than me) been outspoken advocates for shared parenting in South Dakota and across the nation, has in fact, affected the rulings in our own shared parenting case.

“There’s just no other logical explanation,” our attorney said, shaking his head and looking hard at us in a recent meeting to follow up on ‘the email.’ A shared parenting proponent himself, he felt absolutely terrible leaving things where they were at. He had even helped draft what this year became the new law on Shared Parenting in South Dakota and felt our case was a slam dunk if there ever was one. It is most likely one of the last meetings we’ll have with our attorney. This one …

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Enjoying the rain.

As I sit working from the kitchen table this Friday .. I hear the sound of hooves and laughter coming down the driveway.

The girls are back together for the first time in months and seem to sincerely be enjoying each other’s company.

It’s drizzing rain today, cool and cloudy. While most people are cursing this summer weather ..

Bareback

They really don’t seem to mind. Beautiful.

Camp comes to a close ..

Last walk up with a friend ..

It has been one of the hottest June’s on record here in Wisconsin and this week at camp, the girls .. most of them anyway .. didn’t seem to mind.  Other than one day.  They rode in the morning and went to the pool in the afternoon.

“Well,” my daughter tells me on the way home as she is reliving some of the fun that went on this week outside learning better horsemanship .. “some of the girls got really crabby the last couple days.  I think it was just too hot.”

We laughed a little about it, especially since we were at that point, sitting in the air conditioned car.  I looked at the temperature gauge.  99 degrees.  According to the car.

Hugs, introducing parents and taking last day pics ..

Our 11-year-old absolutely loves this camp ..

Showing families all they’ve learned ..

This is only our second year of overnight .. but she’s been fortunate to come for years to the day camp.  There is something about it.  The place.  The people.  The other girls.  Learning something new.  Being close to home but not too close to start to really learn to feel more comfortable in her independence.  Perhaps most importantly, it’s just camp.  Late night chats.  Secret stories.  Running around like crazy.  Freedom of being a kid in a cool place and confidence building in life and social skills.  That experience she’ll remember for a lifetime.  That she’ll perhaps tell her own daughter about.

One last ride for this year anyway, on Quincy ..

She gave a few hugs.  Said many thank you’s.  Bought the standard camp sweatshirt.  Grabbed a Gatorade and we hit the road.  Ran errands.  Then having had enough of the heat all week, grabbed the dog and headed for the River to cool off.

What a beautiful day.

………………..

While she has a few other camps coming up yet this summer, ones that I know she will love in very different ways ..

As we were watching early 4th of July Fireworks from a friends pier on the lake last night and she is leaning on my chest with her arms around me, she says, “Mom, I really miss camp.  I’m worried I won’t be able to go back next year.”

“We’ll see,” I told her.  “If you love it that much and it is important to you, that might be one of the things we’ll make sure you’re able to do.”

She hugged me tighter and said thanks.

Summer camp ..

“She can check in starting at 2pm, and we plan to be there between 2 & 2:15 so she can get a “good” bunk.”
……………..
I met my ex and our daughter at drop-off for camp this past Sunday .. can’t believe we’re halfway through the week already.  
It’s the second year in a row now, we’ve done a week of overnight camp.   She’s wanted to do it for a long time but finally mustered up the courage this past year for her first week away from home.  She didn’t want either of us, her parents, to leave.  But then at pick-up, she .. as you can expect, also didn’t want to come home.
I’m so excited for her, camp was always something I enjoyed so much as
a kid, but never got to do much of.  Went to one track and field FCA camp .. basketball camp a couple times .. but that was pretty much it.  Ever.  I felt pretty lucky I got to go to those that I did.  And very few of our friends ever went either so I thought it was the norm that camp was a pretty big deal.
My (our) daughter on the other hand, has pretty much been in camp non-stop on some level each summer as she’s grown up, because quite honestly it’s been one of the easiest, most reassuring she’s in good hands and economical options for her parents (myself and the ex).  She’s gotten some great experience and had a ton of fun over the years.  Music, sports, water, pure social, acting, art, animals, you name it .. she’s probably been at the camp.  Week after week.  Just about every summer.
But last summer..
She asked to not have to go so much.  And as she’s gotten older, I agree.  There are better ways for us to manage the time involved, the value of and the expense of it all.  Plus, there are only a few camps anymore she really asks to go to .. some she’d like to attend and a few I think would be good for her.  And I want her to be able to have those experiences.  
This week, it’s horse camp.
And .. it’s only the hottest week so far of the year with temperatures soaring into the 90’s for days on end.  I’ve been a bit worried about the girls and the staff this week .. I called to ask a counselor this morning if there might be anything any of the parents can do or bring ..
“No, we should be good,” replied the young woman who answered.    
They will be spending perhaps not as much time on horseback this week and more time on field trips or in a pool or spraying each other with water.  Either way, she told me, they are good and camp will be keeping a close eye on them all.
Whew ..
Can’t wait to see her Saturday.  Hear all about it.  And have some downtime together before ‘Camp Bayfield’ next week, not really camp.  But where we’ll all be together with the Cowboy and his kids and a few friends .. and just have time to play.
…………….
“Did you go to summer camp when you were a kid,” I ask the Cowboy this morning as we chatted quick over the phone.
“No.  Well, we went to rodeo bible camp.  But our camp was going to rodeos every weekend with the family.  That was camp,” he added.
…………….
There truly are so many great values to camps:  Opportunities to learn new things, do good things, meet new friends, earn new responsibilities, grow, change, evolve, be active in ways you wouldn’t otherwise .. I feel blessed to have such great resources in our area to send her to.
However ..
I am just as fired up for her to have more downtime this year.  To not have to go all the time.  To not still believe every child gets to go to different, fun camps all summer long, because many don’t.  It is a luxury not every family can afford or chooses to even if they can.  But it’s a great option.
The other option we’re excited about .. (during her time with mom anyway) will be spent with the neighbor boy and his mother, who is a teacher.  She will be keeping them busy for awhile each morning doing some math and spelling to keep them progressing hopefully as they both head toward their first year of middle school.   That will be part of the day.  The other part will include responsibilities at home, chores around the house and taking care of the animals she so desperately loves and wants to have but truly has no idea how much work they are.  Most importantly she will also have a great opportunity to spend time doing what a lot of other kids do during the summer .. and that is, enjoy some free-time.  Figure out how to not be bored on their own.  Be a kid.  
Chances are .. anyone reading is all grown up by now and knows how quickly camp .. summer .. and being a kid flies by.


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.

Easter ..

Easter Sunday, 2012 was a beautiful day .. as well as a bittersweet end to an incredible week of vacation, one unlike any other in my life, I realized as I pulled back into Madison late last night.

We almost always drive wherever we go.  And we are almost always going from place to place, spending only a couple days in each place .. visiting quickly before we’re off again.

This vacation, we settled in.  Felt at home.  And soaked up all we could of a place I never dreamed we would want to do much more than drive through on my way somewhere else .. a community (several) of people who all know each other by name, who have each others backs .. and a family we adore and can’t wait to see again.

………..

Easter Sunday, we woke.  The Easter Bunny had successfully made his trek around the world again .. paying the ranch a wonderful visit on the way.  There were baskets.  Easter eggs hidden everywhere.  And four sweet kids running on jelly bean-chocolate bunny-peanut butter egg-hubba bubba highs around the house trying to find them all.

The Cowboy got the boys ready for church while the girls got into their Sunday best on their own ..

We went to church.  Which, on a holy day like Easter Sunday, was packed.  Apparently like the Cowboy’s family had never seen before.  Even getting there early meant the eight of us ended up on folding chairs in the church basement with about 50 others, having to watch the service on tv.  At one point, there wasn’t anything that happened in that service that didn’t set the Cowboy and I off laughing.. which I felt bad about.  But couldn’t help it.  And, I believe it all started before we even reached the steps of the church as we watched two young women/girls trying to keep some of the shortest new Sunday dresses I’ve ever seen from flying up in the wind as they walked gingerly in their 4 inch heels into Catholic Mass .. not sure why that struck us as funny but it did .. and it just got better from there.  Egging us on especially was a woman to our right singing her heart out but so incredibly off key.  Which .. not that there’s anything wrong with that.  But on top of everything else .. It was a wonderful Easter morning and it felt good to be in church, yet it was a strangely humorous scene.

The Cowboy and I tried after that .. to not feel time weighing on us, like it always does when one of us has to leave to return home .. and just enjoy what was left of the day, our time together and the chance to be with family – especially the kids.

There was one more afternoon of riding.  Of working around the ranch.  And time with family.  The Cowboy’s mom prepared for us all an incredible brunch .. and there were more Easter baskets and candy of course to be shared, before we all had to part ways.

I often shed a tear as we leave to head home because .. the girls asked why the other day .. well, because it’s just sad, I told them.  I never take for granted I will see those I love again and I usually tell them to a fault, how much I love them and to travel safely until we meet again.  Plus, I just love being there..  Or having the Cowboy here.  So what lies in-between just kind of stinks.

This time however, it was my daughter I was consoling as we pulled away ..

“I don’t want to leave, mom” .. she said, crying as we hit the road for home.  And the fact that it was her prompting that got us to stay in one place the entire week, made me feel very blessed that she seemed to enjoy not only our time together as a mom and daughter ..  but a vacation we look forward to every other year .. and perhaps most importantly, that she is feeling increasingly at home with the Cowboy.

…………….

As I ground beans for a fresh pot of coffee this Monday morning and reflected on the time .. I am just purely grateful for every moment this past week … Especially the down time together, something I know I can always do better at.

Along with that, the fact that never once, for us anyway this past week, was there an alarm clock set.  (I am reminded of that, as I hear one going off in my daughters room.)

Here we go, I guess.  As I pour the beans into a filter and hit brew, I’m thinking ..

Back to the old grind.

It may not be the vacation blend .. but it is still a pretty good, robust brew.  And I am just trying to enjoy every sip ..