Enjoying Your 10 Cows 

This is another in our Best Blogs of 2016 series previously posted on Figuring Out The Plot.

My friend Jerry is quite the philosopher. You might not expect this if you saw him, as he would likely be wearing boots and jeans, talking to you with an unassuming smile, and maybe drinking a Natty Light. But over the years I have heard many pearls of wisdom come out of his mouth.
My favorite, though, is the most recent. 

We were talking at BB’s birthday about the little cow herd we are building. Jerry told us that he now only has 10 cows. “Some big rancher I am, huh?” 

But, he said, he enjoys them. When he goes to feed, he can pet half of them. He likes to see the calves come every year. And then, the pearl….

“You know, I bet you I get more enjoyment from my 10 cows than {a certain big rancher we know} gets from his 2,500 cows.” 

And that really struck me… I hope that I live my life in that same way that Jerry thinks about his cows. 

I hope I can get more enjoyment out of my life than someone who might have “more.” I want to feel more appreciation, more love, and more gratitude even if the material things we have are less. I hope I will always enjoy what we have, whether that be 10 cows or a little house or an older vehicle. I want to appreciate sunsets more. To enjoy small family trips even though others are taking extravagant European adventures. I want to remember where we started when the list of house projects left to do seem overwhelming. I want to be thankful for the little moments, like BB’s laughter or Husband’s grin, or the cows running towards us with the cake bucket. I hope that when I wish we had more–land or money or stuff or time–I will remember to be grateful for that which we have been given.  

I hope that I–like Jerry–always enjoy my 10 cows. And I wish the same for all of you. 

Closet Project 2017

For years, I have seen this idea online around New Years.  You turn all of the hangers in your closet around backwards.  When you wear something, you hang it back up with the hanger facing correctly.  Then, you can really tell what you wear and what you don’t.  After a year, you can get rid of stuff you honestly never wear. 

I am a week in and so far, I really like this little project!  It has really made me try and wear a bigger variety of clothing so I can turn more hangers around. 

I will keep you posted as the year goes on!

BB’s Birth Story 

I figured since I shared LL’s birth story, I should move BB’s to this new blog too.  As you will see, far less dramatic (and far less quick) than LL!

I hesitated to do a birth story blog. For years I’ve cringed at the thought of reading anything another person writes that contains words like cervix or dilated or birth canal. But, ya know, this blog is where I happen to chronicle my life and store my memories, so leaving out such a momentous event didn’t seem right either.

In light of that, I’ve decided to do some sort of a compromise. I will be writing a birth story. But I won’t be writing a graphically detailed, gory version and promise not to use the word cervix. I’ve decided the best approach is to tell the story as I’ve heard Husband tell it to other people. He is super private and I figure if he feels comfortable including it when he tells the story, it’s probably safe to share.

Background

At about 36 weeks I started having contractions and beginning to dilate. At that time, the doctor told us that he thought we could be having a baby “any day now” and that he didn’t think we would make our due date, which was great because we would not have to discuss things like induction. With that info, we hurried around and got our hospital bag packed, carseat ready to go, and waited on a baby. Well….said baby decided to prove the doctor wrong. (My dad swears that all doctors tell all women at 36 weeks there will be a baby any day just so they don’t jump out a window thinking they have a month of pregnancy left. Maybe he’s right.)

At our last scheduled appointment, which happened the day before BB was due, the ultrasound tech spotted something concerning on the ultrasound that she brought to the doctor’s attention. In light of this, the doctor told us that we needed to go ahead and plan on having a baby the next day and that we should induce. So, there was the plan.

After a lovely dinner with one of Husband’s co-workers, we headed home to get some sleep before heading to the hospital at 6:00 am.

The Day Of

Once we arrived, they got me checked in and gave me Pitocin at about 8:00. They asked if I wanted an epidural and my answer was that I thought I’d wait and see. I didn’t like the idea of not being able to get up and walk around, but turned out, because they induced me I couldn’t get up and walk around anyway. So in light of that, after about an hour and a half of pretty serious contractions, I decided an epidural was a good idea. It just didn’t make sense to me to spend all day in pain when there was medicine to help with that. So the epidural man came in and took care of me….and I wanted to kiss him. I could still feel a little pain, but nothing too bad.

So from there, we basically hung out for the rest of the day and just waited. About 1:00 they came in and said I was progressing nicely and we would probably have a baby by 4:00. (Perhaps something else they tell every poor woman…)

At 4:00, they said we’d wait another couple of hours. At 6:30 they came in, I was ready to go, and we decided to start pushing. The nurse told me she thought I’d probably just need to push about 30 minutes and we’d have a baby. The kickoff for Monday Night Football was on, Patriots v. Steelers. We started pushing about the time kickoff happened.

The Delivery

Well, after pushing for 4 hours, still no baby. My favorite part of this time was during the midst of this, the nurse says, “Who in the family has red hair?” Well, there is red on both sides of the family, so we knew there was a chance of a red-headed boy. It was hilarious that before he was even born, that red hair was a topic of conversation.

The Husband was a champ. He held my leg in the air for hours, held my hand, handed me barf bags, was right in the middle of it all.

4 hours into this, I was exhausted. I had been vomiting all day. I was starving. I was on oxygen having a hard time breathing. The baby was beginning to show signs of distress. The doctor came in an said that we were in a situation where we needed to do something different. I was out of energy and the baby was starting to have trouble. He very calmly explained we had three options: forcepts, vaacum, or c-section.

Husband sort of took over at this point and asked what the doctor thought we should do. He said he really thought he could have the baby out with forcepts in 2 pushes. Decision made.

At this point, people started running into our room. All day it had pretty much just been us and the nurses and a couple of nursing students who were hoping to see their first delivery. Suddenly, the room was full of probably 10 nurses everywhere. The doctor got everything ready and off we went.

Now, when I heard forcepts, I didn’t really know what that meant. I pictured some sort of long tweezer-like things that would grab his head. No. What I saw were these tong-looking things the size of the dang spatchula Husband uses on the bbq grill. I can’t even.

The doctor was right, two pushes, horrible pain, and the baby was out. He didn’t cry and all I could see was that his legs looked blue. Husband could see him and assured me that he was fine. Dad cut the cord, the doctor finished up working on me, and that was that.

The Baby

So, with that, BB arrived. He weighed in at 7 pounds, 10.9 oz. (For the record, I had guessed he would be 7 pounds 11 oz earlier in the day.) Measured at 19.5 inches long. He had the cutest little face, the longest little feet, and hair that is just barely tinged red.

The baby was delivered exactly as the coaches shook hands after the game. While the doctor was working on me after the birth, he asked the nurses who won the game. “The Patriots,” I responded. The doctor replied, “You were watching the game during that?!?” What can I say? I am, indeed, a football fan.

The After Party

After he arrived, the family came back in to meet BB. My parents, Husband’s mom, and Husband’s sister were all there.

Honestly, all I remember about this time was that I was so thirsty and starving. They let me have some water right away but made me wait an hour for food. By this point, it was midnight, nothing was open, and Husband was also starving. Enter our friends Austin and Dylan. One text message later and these two showed up in the middle of the night bearing Whataburger for Husband and red gatorade for me. That, kids, is what friendship looks like.

And just like that, we were a family of three.

So, there you have it. A birth story. Without using the word cervix. You are welcome.

Couponing Apps: Ibotta

I love me some coupons.  But it seems like the coupons coming in the Sunday paper like in the good ol’ days has passed.  Recently, I got started using a few online couponing apps.  It’s the same idea as clipping from the paper, just more high tech. 

My favorite is Ibotta. I have been using it  for about a month each and have already earned $25 in savings!

(I also use Checkout51 and Mobisave–referral code for Mobisave is PFPLZCPW if you join!–blogs on those coming soon).


  Ibotta seems to be the best one I have found, because it has the most offers, and the best signing bonus and referral payment. 

To get started, all you do is download the app (or log onto your computer), create an account, and you are ready!  

When you set up your account, put in my referral code [hcixwgc]  if you don’t mind so I can get a little credit! 

Once you are signed up, you just select whatever store you are going to and then browse the list if availablecoupons and unlock any that you want to use. 


After that, you go shopping like normal.  When you are done, you will click “verify purchases” and that will have you scan the product bar code and take a photo of the receipt. 


And that’s that!  They credit the value of the coupons you use to your account, and when you get to $20, you can have it put into pay pal or get a gift card. 

If anyone needs help getting started, let me know!

Quick Summary

How it works:  You unlock coupons (i.e. $1 off Pampers diapers) and after you purchase the product, you scan the bar code and take a picture of your receipt. 

Bonus: When you redeem your first offer, you get a $10 credit!

Referral payment: If you refer a friend, you get $5 when they first use the app.

How you get paid: once you earn $25, you can have it transferred to your pay pal account or get a gift card to one of several stores of your choice.

My referral link/code:  Click here to sign up and enter this code [hcixwgc] when they ask!

Marry the Good Guy

This weekend, I was grumpy.  Husband was not home much.  Instead, he was busy helping kids at a local livestock jackpot.  And as I tried to keep our two kids (15 months and 2 months) alive and hour house standing and food cooked, it was fairly easy for me to get annoyed that he was not here helping me. 

And then I realized, the reason I was home alone was that I married the good guy.  

Photo by Britt Fisk Photography

The guy who would spend 9 hours of his time on a Saturday shearing sheep for every kid in the county.  The guy who would fork over a $20 when a kid was short on entry fee money.  The guy who gives pep talks after classes don’t go the way you wanted, and high fives when they do.  

I’ve seen him lose sleep over someone being treated wrong, rush in to help friends who I am not sure would do the same, and not think twice about giving someone the shirt off his back. 

There are lots of things that go into finding the right spouse.  It’s the most important decision you ever make.  My advice, girls?  Marry the good guy.  Let the other details fall where they may. 

And maybe don’t be grumpy when he’s gone all weekend. 😬

Little House Tour (Kids’ Room) 

Today we will continue our tour of our little house.  (If you missed the first post, click here.

We only have 3 bedrooms and since we live in a town with no hotels, keeping a guest room was important to me.  So, we decided for now the kids would share a room.  It’s small, but for now it seems just right!

They each have their own side.  BB has his bed and LL has the crib.  They share a dresser that actually was mine as a kid that Husband repainted and redid. 

On BB’s side, we have his name (sweet gift from my former secretary and friend!) and a little gallery collage of farm animals.  

Letters from Etsy, canvas prints from Texas Trio in Amarillo
 
His bed is a twin with no box springs and rails that Husband made to be sure he won’t fall off. Said rails work perfectly as a ladder, turns out…  

Bedding from JC Penny, bed from Chuck’s Rustic Furniture in Amarillo

Over the bed hangs a painting of Husband’s horse done by my parents’ super talented neighbor and a prayer card for The Infant of Prague.

On LL’s side, we have her crib, decorated with a John Deere quilt made by my aunt and a cute blankie from her great grandma.  Her name letters, again, came from my friend, Deb!  I found the pink print at Hobby Lobby and thought it was perfect.


In the corner we have a side table for playing and storing the massive stuffed animal collection they have. 

Finally, we have a quilt rack that holds all of the beautiful (mostly handmade) quilts that people have given the kiddos.


I am excited with how we were able to decorate for both kids in the same space.  Hopefully, they love it as well! 

Recipe Card: Rozann’s Chocolate Chip Cookies

I have eaten my share of chocolate chip cookies.  One of my earliest childhood memories is baking cookies with my Gran.  I’ve really never met one I didn’t like. I consider myself a cookie connoisseur.

With that said, this is the only recipe I ever use. It came from my dear friend and fellow cookie lover, Rozann.  And basically everything she touches turns to gold.  Trust me, you need to try this one.

Rozann’s Chocolate Chip Cookies

Makes about 3 dozen

3/4 C white sugar

1 C brown sugar

2 sticks butter

2 eggs

1 T vanilla (I figure more is always better.)

3 C flour

3/4 t salt

3/4 t baking soda

1 bag chocolate chips (Rozann does half semi-sweet, half white, but I do all semi-sweet.)

Heat oven to 350.

Mix together sugars and butter.  Add eggs and vanilla and mix well.

In a separate bowl, mix flour, salt, and baking soda.

Slowly add dry ingredients to mixer until mixed.

Fold in chocolate chips.

Bake for 13-15 minutes.

There you have it!  It’s easy and delicious. Now get to baking!

Ebates…Yes, Its Legit

Most people have heard of Ebates, which is a website offering cash back when you shop online at certain (just about any) store.

When someone first told me, I was sure there had to be a catch, like a fee of some sort.  But, I am a year in and there are no catches. You just get money back–I have gotten $150 in the last year.

All you do is create an account ( if you use this referral link, or enter my email address when it asks who referred you, I get credit), log in before you do your online shopping, and wait for your cash back check to arrive.

Just for signing up and making your first purchase, you get $10. The cash back amount varies by store and by time. On Cyber Monday, for example, it was double the normal cash back amount at most stores.

So for a quick example. Say I want to buy something at Carter’s.  

I log into my Ebates account (or open the app on my phone) and search for Carter’s to find the store.


This tells me that Carter’s offers 3.5% back. Click on the name of the store and you will get this screen:


You click on “Shop Now” and that will activate your cash back and takes you right to the store’s website.


Then you just shop like you normally would.

It’s that easy!  Give it a try (use my link pretty please!) and let me know if you need any help.

Quick Summary

How it works: You get a percentage of cash back for pitches made online. Just log into ebates and access the store of your choice through their app or website.

Bonus: $10 after you use it the first time.

Referral payment: $25 for the first friend, $5 each for subsequent people.

Getting your money: They mail you a check four times a year. 

My referral link: Click here to sign up! 

2016 Bucket List ✔️

In the midst of raising two babies, I was actually able to rack up a few bucket list checkmarks last year. 

✔️Go to The River Walk in San Antonio. 

When I was a kid, every Christmas we would watch a recorded Lawrence Welk special on VHS that my Gran had.  It was shot at the River Walk.  I had always wanted to go and this year, a work trip took me and some of my good friends!  We ate Tex-Mex, did the boat cruise, remembered Tge Alamo, and took a 3 mile run around.  It was great and I am excited to go back this year.


✔️ Visit Sanctuario de Chimayo.

This is another item that has been on my list for a long time.  This little church up in the mountains of NM has dirt with miraculous healing powers.  In the room where the dirt is found, there are crutches lining the wall from people who were cured.  There is also a little shrine to Santo Nino, to whom I have a special devotion for LL.


✔️ Have a blog post go viral. Ever since blogs became a thing, I have wanted one of mine to go viral.  I had no clue how to make that happen, so I just kept writing.  And then, in November, it happened.  My post titled “The People in Rural America” went gang busters.  It got over 1,000 shares on Facebook and over 20,000 page views.  It was published in the Albuquerque Journal. 

✔️Shop at The Silos. As a major Fixer Upper fan, I had been dying to go to The Silos. I got to go Waco twice for work and took full advantage!  In January I shopped and bought a little journal, some hymn cards, and a coffee cup.  In July, I ate the most amazing cupcake for breakfast at their bakery.  Yes, their stuff is pricey, but it was fun to see!

In Defense of Working Mamas

Today, I will return to work after about 10 weeks of maternity leave. 


There are a lot of things about this parenting thing I don’t know, but one thing I am sure of is that I am not meant to be a stay-at-home Mom.  And that’s ok.

Some people are, and that is a wonderful, noble, critically important thing. I admire them. I am grateful for their calling.  I call many of them my friends. 

I am just not wired that way.  I am a better Mom (not to mention wife and person) when I go to work.

That doesn’t, however, alleviate  the Mom guilt that pops into a gal’s head when she heads to the office. Many times when I am home, I feel like I should be working and when I am working I feel like I should be home.  I worry that in trying to do both jobs well, I am succeeding at neither. 

I don’t ever want my kids to feel second to my career.  Because obviously, they are my most important job. I want to do everything I can to make them feel loved and happy and important.

But I also want them to understand that not all moms look the same.  And not all people have the same calling.  I believe God put it in some hearts to stay home, and that he put it in some hearts to go to the office. And both are ok.  Both are good moms. 

And as I think about starting this next chapter, I am thankful to so many people who have helped me come to these realizations and feel comfortable in my decisions.

Thank you to my own mom and my grandmas and my aunts and neighbors and family friends who showed me since I was a small child that being a working mom was ok.  That working moms are great moms and their kids can thrive and succeed. That they do not love any less than a stay-at-home mom. 

Thank you to the other moms in my profession who have shown me how to walk this path. As a young attorney, I watched a senior partner at my firm do so with grace and dignity, and that has stuck with me and inspired my own journey. 

Thank you to our babysitter for allowing me to leave my most precious possessions with her and never worry about whether they are being cared for and loved. This is the biggest piece of the working mom puzzle for me, and having her is the perfect fit. 

Thank you to my mom friends. The ones who are on the same working mom road who share their joys and struggles with me.  And the ones who are stay-at-home moms for showing me what it looks like when that is one’s vocation and reminding me that we can love, support, and encourage each other despite that being different for each of us.

Thank you to my husband who will undoubtedly step up to help keep these two babies alive and a house standing as I go back to the office.

And lastly, thank you to God for giving me these babies.  And for giving me my dream career. And for allowing me to have both. We constantly look around and stand in awe of Him opening the right doors for our little family. I am grateful the call of my vocation that involves both being a mother and having a job outside the home.  I pray I can fulfill His purpose for me in both areas.

Hello, again, Monday. Mama’s back in heels and a pencil skirt. With a little dried milk on her shoulder.  Seems the perfect attire for this day.