April 24, 2015

When the Going Gets Tough, It Gets Hot and Sweaty

April 24, 2015
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I wonder if when Billy Ocean sang "When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Going" he had just  crawled out of a Barre Class (not the kind you belly up to) AKA: HBB (Hot Breath Barre in a room with other sweating, breath gasping women clinging on to the promise of the cool down).  Let me begin with a little background.  After having twins, sweating it out in the gym and "dieting" I surrendered to a plastic surgeon to magically make me look bikini hot as if I'd never consumed a calorie in my entire life.  A tummy tuck and a little lipo here and there was to solve all my problems.  No more closet drama over what to wear, good-bye celery and lemon water, so long muffin top and back fat.  I was determined to never let another by-stander place their hand on MY squishy stomach and say with shock and awe,  "Oh my!  Are you pregnant?  Are you seriously going for  sixth?"  It was either I start wearing a t-shirt declaring that I was not pregnant or bust.    Bust!  I was going under the knife and was to come out looking like Victoria Beckham.   Yeeeeeaah, not so much.  With a slow and painful recovery, minor belly button complications (so weird that the body naturally wants to close a surgeon made hole because my natural belly button got lost in the excess skin that was removed.  Gross!  I know!  Seriously.  Stop sharing!), and scars matching those of Frankenstein, I was anything but a model on the cover of VOGUE magazine.  This is not to say that my doctor failed me, he didn't.  He was fabulous.  I was let down by my own expectations. Period.  The moral of the story is not to mess with what God created and intended: Women with squishy, skin stretching proof of carrying a child.  
The result of good genes, celery and water.  I'm way too fun for that!
Four years later and chasing chickens, pigs, dogs and kids wasn't quite cutting it in the cardio department.  Moving fence panels and mucking stalls wasn't giving me the Jennifer Aniston toned arms and Taylor Swift legs I was hoping for.  So, I signed up for Barre (and vowed to the 21 Day Fix Challenge).  I was intrigued by the ballerina concept and idea of it.  The reality however is tough and hot and sticky and humiliating.  Barre, aside from getting to act like you are a ballerina in training while wearing cute and ridiculously expensive leggings and tank tops, is not glamorous at all.  But neither is my attitude and behavior after giving up binge eating over pizza (I gave up that talent as of last week.  I am in clinical withdrawal).  Dear Family and Friends, I am sorry for the things I will say because I am hangry. 
A friend of mine has a way of understanding my struggle. 
Today, I was given a visual of what I look like (because I try really hard NOT to look in the mirror for fear I may not recognize myself) while griping the barre until my knuckles are white and my body is convulsing.  A good friend said I had the look of sheer terror on my face.  Well, yeah I am terrified.  I'm sweating to my death in a 94 degree room thinking I will die in drenched clothes with sweaty hair and toes desperate for a pedicure. My pits haven't been shaved in 3 days and to top it off I'm wearing Granny Panties (oops, TMI). My true cause of death will be by inhaling hot toxic carbon dioxide exacerbated by my very own self.  If I don't die I will be blind due to the amount of salty sweat mixed with mascara pouring into my eyes.  
All this to say: To all you ballerinas out there, Namaste.  I have always had respect for you but holy hamstrings you are made of other matter unknown to the common human race, especially me.  That goes for you Yoga people too.  Standing on my head hurts.  And twisting myself into a pretzel is quite unbecoming for a person such as myself.   Not to mention the Warrior 3 Pose.  I couldn't flick a fly in Warrior 3.  I'd go on about the other poses but I don't know how to say them or spell them.   
Not reality. 
And if you think 60 seconds isn't a long time, sprint for 60 seconds.  Longest. Minute. Ever. 
And yet I go back.  I go back because I have a girls beach trip coming up and ain't no body wants to see this in a bathing suit.  I go back because it does, after all, feel good to prove to myself that I can do it.  Okay, truth be told, I go for the cool down.  For the part that I literaly melt into my mat, the music fades, the lights dim and you can say to yourself, "Hell yeah".  I never seem to say those two words after shoveling manure.  Weird.  Oh, and for the record, "Happy Baby Pose" should be outlawed in the "What's Acceptable and Flattering" world.

April 17, 2015

A Date with Big Dog

April 17, 2015
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Date night.  Brought to you by moving mountains and one tough babysitter.  Oh, and a 5 hour energy drink.  Our typical date night is dinner at a favorite restaurant and a movie.  I know.  Pretty boring but it's what we like. It's routine and simple. But sometimes getting a sitter and moving mountains isn't possible.  Big Dog likes his date nights with his lucky lady, me, so he will get them however he can.  And sometimes that means we lock up the kids in the house (with our 17 year old, don't call DHS yet) and sit on the patio of our red barn in white rocking chairs no less.  

A sketch of the white rockers outside our barn by Laura Hill made for some dear friends of ours as a wedding gift. 
Since we live in Oklahoma we are almost always gifted with a beautiful sunset.  And the other night was nothing short of a masterpiece of a sunset.  Country music was in the background and we each had a cold beer in hand.  Ahhh...the good life.  What a romantic setting, ranch style.  Now for the conversation.  You see, Big Dog is, dare I say, a prepper? He has MRE's stocked, makes his own bullets, and has a wealth of knowledge and sophisticated plans on what to do if the world ends.  Most people laugh at him but I kinda fancy it.  Anyhoo, we have a septic tank right off our patio.  Just when I thought Big Dog was going to say something deep and enduring he said, "Dang it!  I meant to throw that dead chicken from the other day down there."  What?  Wait, are we not on a romantic date 50 yards from our house swooning over a sunset?  Are we not going to talk about our future farm plans, daydream about retirement, more sleep and less chores?  I thought we could fantasize about a trip to Italy or Paris.  Nah.  Big Dog is a thinker and he's always thinking about survival.  

Big Joe is as handsome as ever!
Back to the chicken.  Naturally, I was dumbfounded by his statement.  I said, "why in the ever livin' dickens would you throw a chicken down there?"  Big Dog calmly and all knowingly explained this bit about needing something to feed the bacteria and the rest went right over my head.  Since I'm a visual person I needed to change the "table talk" and fast.  So I said, "speaking of chickens, I wish the owls would quit hunting my girls".  And just as a wise man solves the problems of the world he informed me that it would all be better in about a week.  Why a week?  Well, friends that is apparently when the rabbits start having their sweet little baby bunnies and the owls, being tired of fowl, move on to baby bunnies.  Again, a subject change was needed.  The sunset became blurry as my tears snuck up over my eyes.  The terror of bunnies being carried off by owls played in my mind like another horror film.  Oh the carnage!

If you haven't heard Miranda Lambert's "Oklahoma Sky" shame on you.
So, the acceptance of the circle of life still lingers in my world.  And as for date night...I think we should stick to dinner and a movie.  A movie that doesn't involve dead chickens, owls and baby bunnies. 

April 13, 2015

Something Fair-tastic Coming This Way!

April 13, 2015

When I look out at our 40 acres of lush green pastures, I see endless possiblilites.  I see things that could be, things that shouldn't be, and somewhere in between I get a rush of inspiration.  I get so caught up in an idea and frantically search for my magic wand as if it's around here somewhere (I can never seem to find it when I need it).  

So, not to beat around the bush, I'll shoot ya straight.  Two wildly talented and inspired gal pals (Lindsi Niebur and Kim Frakes) and I are planning a FAIR right here on Sandy River Ranch in Norman, Oklahoma. Blue Ribbon pie contests, folk music, local art and trade, delicious food, agriculture and much, much more will set up camp on one of the pastures and a good time will be had by all.  So, mark your calendars for September 26, 2015, tell your friends, and plan to attend the first annual...

Stay tuned y'all! It's gonna be Fair-tastic! 

April 12, 2015

Chasing Chickens, My Tail, and My Youth

April 12, 2015
So you know when you are 38 but you swear you are still 35 but feel like 70?  It's a confusing state of mind.  The reality is bitter sweet.  No, you aren't 35 but you aren't 80 either, yet.  My achy joints and lack of memory weigh on the side of 80.  My lack of memory again weighs on the side of 35.  Only in reality is the number 38.  This concept was ever so present the other day.

Chasing My Youth:
My cousin and her two lovely children were here from NYC.  While having a family lunch it hit me like a truck full of Depends Diapers that I am getting old.  I've realized this truth over and over but not like this.  Instead of talking about the latest swimsuit fashion, summer plans, and celebrity juice I found myself trying on my cousin's reader glasses.  People, my visual world changed instantly.  There I was having lunch discussing the power of reader glasses while saying to myself, "you know you are old when...".  Suddenly, I was giddy at the thought of just how many reader glasses I can have, how available they are at almost any store and gas station (for reals).  They are like an accessory that come in endless colors and patterns, some with jewels.  Readers are cool.  Except for the part that while trying on the readers, I was taken back to my childhood days when I would pretend I was an old granny by wearing a pair of readers.  As soon as I put them on I transformed in to a 90 year old "Gladys".  I would giggle as I imitated a granny voice and lowered my readers up and down to adjust what I was looking at or who I was talking to while shaking my bony finger.  Later that night my cousin surprised me with a few fashionable readers she picked up at the Dollar Store (I told you they were available just about anywhere).  Looks like I will have sunglasses and readers on my head as I frantically look for my car keys or cell phone.  And while I am wearing them I will only respond to the name "Gladys".

If Kate Spade makes readers, I'm in! Kate Spade Readers
Chasing My Tail:
After a beautiful day spent having lunch, discovering readers and counting tadpoles at a park it was time to step back into reality and assume the rest of the day's chores and errands.  I drove home to grab a carton of eggs I needed to deliver.  I only  had a few minutes before I needed to pick up the kids from school so I was flustered looking to and fro for the dozen eggs.  Where were they?  In the fridge?  Nope.  In the freezer (because yes, I've been known to put milk in the cabinet)? Nope.  Check the fridge again.  Nope.  Huff, puff, sigh, put hands on hip and swear to myself, "you are losing your mind" came over me like a hot flash.  Did the eggs grow legs and walk away?  My dad swears this phenomenon can actually happen.    Countless Bic pens went missing by growing legs and walking right out of our house when I was growing up. But eggs growing legs? No. Not possible.  And then the classic light bulb flickered.  Friends, I had already delivered the blasted eggs earlier that day!  This revelation was much like the, "wait, no.  I'm not 35.  I'm 38? Really, 38?  Not 35?" revelation I have on a weekly basis.  

Chasing Chickens:
My Farm Girl instinct told me I'd better check the chicken yard before I dashed to get the kids.  My bladder was begging for mercy but I had to check the yard first.  Priorities people, priorities.  Sure enough, a baby chick had escaped and was facing a death match against two K-9's with sharp teeth and drool.  Getting the dogs off the chick was like breaking up a  fight between two felines clawing over a can of sardines.  Chasing a chicken while trying to keep it from the jaws of death is no easy feat.  Pull one dog off, another gets a grip.  Pull that dog off, the chicken runs away.  It was windy and I had on a flowy top which was up over my head.  I may as well have been blind-folded.  Again, where was the camera crew?  As soon as I got my hands on the chicken the, "Oh No You Didn't!" happened.  Not a lot.  Hold your tongue.  Just a little. The "just a little" you experience after having kids and no cough or sneeze is pee-proof safe.  Yeah.  Not my finest moment with my shirt up over my head, chicken in hand, and wet pants.  No time to fuss, I still had to get the kids.  On second thought, maybe Depends aren't a bad idea after all.  I mean, I'm already into readers.  

A few friends think it would be hysterical to see me chasing chickens in these chicken feet heels.

By the end of the day I had two new readers to accessorize with, all my eggs in a basket and a chicken safe and sound.  Oh, and dry pants.  I'm still looking for my mind and deciding which age I truly am.  

April 6, 2015

Livestock vs. Deadstock

April 6, 2015
Moving to the farm was every bit of setting out on to uncharted territory for me.  It seemed as though we had packed up, said our good-byes to the USA with sidewalks, street lights and neighbors, and moved to a foreign country.  I had to learn a whole new language and lingo and embrace a different way of life with new lives to care for.  Because you know, five kids to look after wasn't enough.  Or something like that.

One bright and early morning, with coffee in hand, I bid farewell to my little farm children and shoved them out the door to school.  Not a split second later, before I could take my deep sigh of relief and gulp of coffee, Big Dog pushed the kids back in and said, "honey, we have a problem".  A problem?  What? Who forgot to pack a lunch, do their homework, brush their teeth, put their shoes on?  No, no. Not that kind of "we have five kids problem so there is always a problem" kind of problem.  

You see, the night before was one of the loudest, scariest thunder storms I've ever witnessed with my five senses.  The sky was fierce with dark, mean clouds.  The rain fell hard and heavy without mercy.  The thunder was deafening.  And the lightening.  The lightening was blinding.  I'd never seen anything like it.  I was actually more afraid of this particular thunder storm than of any tornado warning in my 37 years of life.  The thunder pounded and roared right outside our window.  I was sure lightening, on more than on occasion, hit our barn and fried our cats.  This storm was hitting hard, with powerful vengeance and wrath.  
I did not take the picture but it's a spittin' image of what the storm looked like.  Photo Courtesy: Choctaw City
Back to the morning after.  Back to the problem.  The problem I wasn't prepared for.  Unfortunately, that raging storm cast it's lightening rod down on one of our horses.  Poor Sarley had taken cover under a tree.  Didn't his momma tell him never to hide under a tree during a thunder storm?    Apparently not.  Anyway, the lightening hit the tree, splitting and scorching the trunk and poor Sarley took the shock.  My kids saw a dead horse with four legs sticking stiff and straight up in the air.  Honestly, I would have traded their innocent eyes seeing that sight for them hearing the F-word for the first time (except I'm pretty sure they have already heard that word.  They've ridden the school bus).  Yup, we had a problem.  We had a dead horse, five sad children, and a hysterical mother.  

This is where knowing people of all different kinds comes in handy.  Big Dog called a friend who knew a friend who knew a friend and prepared ME for what was to happen (Big Dog had to get to work or go to a meeting.  He had to get to something other than dealing with a dead horse).  An hour or so later a big truck with a big trailer came driving towards the scene.  A man, a large man, in overalls and a cowboy hat stepped out of that truck and said, "whatcha got here mamn?". Before I could clear my throat and wipe my tears he said, "Ah.  Looks like you got a dead horse over yonder.  There's a lot of that going on today".  Excuse me?  Is that how you greet the grieving?  Is that how you console a city damsel dealing with a farm tragedy?  Apparently so.  Big John (I'm serious as a lightening strike.  His name was Big John) spit his spit and said he would take care of it and be out of my hair in no time.  He must have seen the tears in my eyes and felt the need to comfort me by saying, "you see little lady, that's the way it is out here on the farm.  Sometimes you got livestock and sometimes you got deadstock".  And with that he turned and walked back towards his truck mumbling something about how he better get on because he had a days worth of work goin' and gettin' the other deadstock that had fallen prey to the storm.  I wiped my tears, put my hands on my hips, took a deep breath and headed back inside to finish my coffee with my new found understanding of "deadstock".

Poor Sarley.  He was our very best riding horse.  A most gentle and kind spirit he was.  Sarley wouldn't hurt a fly biting his back or buzzing in his ear.  He had a heart of gold.  And I have to be brutally honest and tell you that as I walked back in to the house I couldn't help but snare at our mean bully of a horse and wish it was him instead.  

In memory of our Sweet Sarley.  Photo Courtesy: Bethanie Lied