Wednesday, March 30, 2011

What I learned from my kids today...

     I just had one of those days with my four year old and almost three year old. I started out the day getting my house ready to host a lunch for our management team. When I am playing hostess, I should know that my kiddos' behavior will be the worst. I told our management team that they were entering a "war zone".  Mid-morning, this is the conversation that took place with my Becca-boo. After screaming unrighteously loud for my whiny Will to go get in his bed, because I could not hear another whine, I breathed deep and my sweet girl asked, "Mommy, are you frusterated?" I answered with a yes and she proceeds to tell me that   she is tired of the whining as well. I asked, "Becca, I don't want to yell like that, what is something I could do besides yell at him?" In her contemplative voice, she says, "you could hug him, kiss him, feed him, give him toys..." I affirmed her those were great ideas and gave her permission to ask me next time, respectfully of course, not to yell like that. She said she would and I walked away feeling like I had just had an unbelievably productive conversation with a 4 year old. 

     We had a great management meeting lasting about three hours figuring out all of life's problems and I was on my way to pick up my kiddos from Molly's house, where a babysitter kept them.  I get into the house to see my supposedly "potty trained" boy soaking wet with urine and his big sister grabbing him by his neck. This has been a reoccuring theme in his short life (refer to the following):

They are only 15 months apart and sibling rivalry has been an issue since Will was only 6 months old. I told my dear friend, Molly, that I am out of ideas on how to deal with this. We go through seasons, but this seems to be a season of sibling rivalry once again.  So, after being interrupted once while even writing this with Will's fingers getting slammed in yet another door, I am ending the day with free printable charts on my fridge to replace spankings with stickers. Will they work? I don't know, but it will give us a new day tomorrow with new incentives. Can I hear an AMEN?

Monday, March 28, 2011

My "Strong Will"

    I have been lost these past two weeks without my good camera. I have had blog worthy stories to tell, but I am completely dependent on my nice Nikon to capture them. I left my charger in Steamboat and still have not received it in the mail, but you will know when I do. I'm not even that much of a photographer, but that camera makes me feel like an expert and it definitely gives me the inspiration I need to feel like I have something to write about. Well, today I know I do have someONE to write about. I am introducing my sweet family one member at a time and I wanted to pay tribute to my potty training, strong willed, toot loving, pitiful whiner, tender hearted middle child. His name is Will and he is absolutely one of a kind. 

    Will is one of those kiddos that you either can only handle for about 30 minutes or you just can't get enough of. He is my child who came out of the womb with an opinion. I spent 6 weeks on bed rest in the hospital before Will came into this world and then he spent 5 days in the NICU.  I knew then he was going to be an independent little guy. He went home to spend 4 months on oxygen and we all grew from such an experience. He is a gift and has always been a fighter.  He is fun loving and his laughter can fill the entire ranch with joy. He LOVES every choo choo and tractor he sees and actually prays every night thanking the Lord for his "tractor vibeo." He is a very sensitive little guy, telling his mama that he loves her every day and loving unconditionally his brother and sister. Out of the same mouth, comes his dear, melt-your-heart unforgettable toddler voice and the whine heard around the world. I know I will dream one day about his dear two year old voice saying so sweetly, "cuse me, Mommy."  I pray every day that the Lord will make him strong in stature, heart, and mind.  He will never be duplicated and I love him more every day for his passion in life. I cannot imagine this family without our "Little Peanut".  If you are reading this and know Will, please share some of your favorite memories of him. I would love to read them and so will he some day.  These are some of my favorites of our cute boy...

Friday, March 18, 2011

Sunshine makes me better!

   I've seen alot of you in this blogging world write about the weather and how thankful you are for it. Well, I woke up this morning with a snow covered ranch and by lunch time my munchkins were running around with bare feet. We've had 70 degree days this year in March and I couldn't be more thankful for it. My husband on the other hand is mourning over dry ground this time of year, because that means less grass for his cows. We couldn't disagree more.  I try to explain to him that I actually become insulted by his personal complaints, and that my brain needs a sufficient amount of vitamin D in order to parent decently a 4, 2, and 1 year old, but he continues to mourn feed for his cows more. Let's just say that our needs are a little different. Does anyone else out there actually think the sunshine helps make them a better person? (There has to be a Bible verse about it.)  I just wanted to show you a day in the life of a mom that has sunshine for now. My oldest sweet girl got to go on her first ride out on the trails without mom or dad and all of us have soaked up EVERY minute of these beautiful days.  Until the blizzards come again, thank you, Lord, for the sun. 
This was a milestone for me to watch my baby girl hit the trail all by herself.

Becca and her riding friends.

I found the verse, "And God made two great lights-- the GREATER light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night...and He saw that it was good." Genesis 1:16 (See, even the Lord Himself thinks so.)

Monday, March 14, 2011

Guest Ranching for the Guest Ranchers

     Well, I told you about our skiing adventures, but I thought you might be curious about the rest of our trip. Every year we close the ranch down for about a week and intentionally get our staff away to invest in them and give them a little bit of perspective in the guest ranching world. We go to Vista Verde Ranch and treat them to a true guest ranching retreat as they get to see another staff and ranch at work.  We had an incredible time this year. 
      This particular ranch has a "kiddie hut" so my kids got to play everyday with one of our favorite previous staff girls, Aly, and it was truly a vacation for all of us.  You will see from the pictures that the ranch itself was gorgeous!! You will also see that this ranch has more snow than I've ever seen or really want to see. But, this conference is a highlight of our year and this year was one of the best. It's a time of unifying, building up, and preparing our staff for the hard work they're about to do this coming year. Our philosophy is if our staff is taken care of, our guests are taken care of.  Here are some pictures for all of you to get a taste of some other guest ranches.
We're here!
Our wonderful staff in their wonderful lodge.
Snow mobiling with my brave pregnant friend, Molly.
Will in between the snow walls.
This is rare, so I thought I would show it off.
Good bye, Vista Verde Ranch...until next year!
(Our children and adopted children)
Guest ranching is an industry that revolves around family. This trip every year is also a highlight because Tony and I get to see some of our "family". When we make the trip out to Steamboat, we always have two stops to make. The first stop, as you see, is Vista Verde Ranch, where two of Tony's closest friends live and work. Dace and Ben are general managers there. They both had worked at one time at Lost Valley with my husband. The second stop we make is at a ranch called King Creek(pictures below). It is a type of guest ranch owned by several families that desired a "private" guest ranch experience and it is managed by some of our best friends, Brian and Kira. They also worked at Lost Valley years ago and now raise their three boys at King Creek.  Tony and I would not be where we are today without each of them. They are doing life as we are and there is a comfort in our relationships through our similar experiences. There is an entire "guest ranching" family out there and through this blogging experience I hope to only cross paths with more of you.
Those Ripley cowboys are going to be heart breakers!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Lone Skier

      I am one of those that has never been to a movie by myself or even can't recall sitting in a restaurant by myself. But, yesterday I sat on a chair lift by myself.  We are in Steamboat Springs attending a conference that we do annually for our staff from Lost Valley. For the last three years, we bring our staff to get a ranch vacation themselves at Vista Verde Ranch(more pictures and stories to come). Last year, we decided to introduce for the first time our little Becca to snow skiing and she LOVED it. So, this year I got to take Becca to the slopes and Tony watched the boys. Which meant, I would venture onto the mountain by my lonesome.
       I am one of those true extroverts that would rather be chewing on sticks with 20 people than eating chocolate cake by myself, just because people make everything better. Well, yesterday I was not chewing on sticks but when I realized I would be by myself on the ski slope, my thoughts jumped from "Hooray, nobody to think of but myself," to "Will flying down hill on two planks alone give me a panic attack?" I dropped Becca off at ski school and let's just say after two runs down the mountain, I wanted to go join my 4 year old for a lunch of chicken nuggets and juice boxes. The weather was gorgeous, the powder was fresh, I had no child asking anything of me, but I also kept wanting to make friends with everyone on the chair lift and ask if I could ski with them. I even stopped on the side of the mountain and attempted to take a picture of myself(sad, huh?).  The views just aren't as breath taking when you can't enjoy them with someone.
        I sat and had barbeque and a beer for lunch and enjoyed meeting cajuns from deep Louisiana to talk gumbo with, but I also stopped to thank the Lord for my very full life. I believe that God created us to have people. And when I have a season of time to myself, my heart seems even more full of gratitude for all my people. My kids, my husband, our friends, our staff, and our guests make my life incredibly full.  I thanked the Lord that as crazy as our life is because of all these people, it would not be as rich without them. We are blessed by people and I am thankful for the gift.  I also reflected on the morning and concluded that I am a social skier and not a lone skier.
Can you see the sad shadow of me holding up my own phone?

Look at our little ski bunny!!!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Morning Joe!

     My relationship with my "morning joe" is my closest thing to having an affair in my life. I am a passionate coffee drinker!!! After reheating my coffee this morning in the microwave three times, I wondered if any other moms out there experience mornings like I do. And usually the number of times I have to reheat is equivalent to how the morning is going.  I have always been a "morning person", but it's funny how kiddos change so many parts of our lives. 
      My two year old and four year old share a room and my baby boy is practically in the same room.  A typical day is waking up to all three kids chatting or crying over the monitor and I am rolling over trying to figure out how not to face my day. A non-typical day is me getting up at the crack of dawn taking a shower, drinking a cup of coffee(without reheating it at all), and sitting down for some quiet time on my couch. It's happened about twice in my life. Which one do you think makes for a better day?
     Let's just say this morning did not start with the latter agenda. There's always a point in my morning when I finally "surrender" to the day, but it usually occurs after finally drinking  two thirds of my coffee.  (My mother-in-law got me a single-cup coffee maker for Christmas and that has become an essential part of my day...the quick fix! )
       I am at the point now in my day when surrender(don't you just love that word?) has happened...I have turned off the tv, acknowledged that we have an entire ranch to explore, and actually changed the diapers that are hanging between the legs of two of my munchkins.  The kiddos and I are talking about our day's activities and my little princess is contemplating exchanging her tutu for blue jeans and becoming a cowgirl once again.  But, it all started the same as most days, with my reheated cup of joe.  Anyone out there have to reheat today?
They've changed my mornings forever, but I will love them forever.

This one is just so darn cute and actually
I have not changed his diaper yet.