Simple Winter Wreath @ Stilettos In The Mud
New Year's resolutions are not something you will find in our household this year. The idea of setting a goal is steeped in tradition and should come from a positive place. However, somewhere along the line, many venture to say they become disillusioned with or too disappointed in the inability to follow through with their lofty goals, and it is easier to not make them, than make them and fail. I don't mind failure as long as I know I have given something my very best. As long as a resolution is a positive affirmation, then I say make as many of them as you can.

Every year I look back over the prior year and then envision where I want the next year to be... I positively focus on where I want to be a year from now, rather than kick myself for not having arrived yet. 

For example, last year instead of focusing on my sadness of living in an environment which felt toxic for me, and my family, I envisioned what living in a healthy community environment would look and feel like. Researching and writing down all the positive directions I wished to go. Instead of whining and complaining that my cowboy "would never move from the farm," I began stating to him what changes I would like to see. I "armed" myself with positive and quit looking at that which was wrong. I researched options, and began sharing my findings in a positive manner. It took less time than I had imagined for him to begin looking at other options. 

I must confess almost every item of change on "my list" has been met in this last year. My life has had many struggles in the last 6 months, but many more blessings.  

This year, I am focusing on TWO things. The first is for my family to make a list of positive directions we wish to take individually and as a family. As we sit around our table tonight, we will make a list and then keep it in a place to remind us of the direction in which we are moving. 

The second area of focus is on life's blessings.  It is easy to overlook the small day to day blessings which occur. We can be so focused on the nest item on our list that we miss those little moments of serendipity where gifts we were not even imagining we wanted, fall into our lives. This year I decided to follow some ideas I saw on Pinterest. I want to make sure I keep track of all the small blessings while I am focused on positive change! 
Each person in our family (and any guests who wish to join in) will have a place to write down their blessings of the year and place them in the pitcher. Next New Years Day we will look over ALL our blessings! 
Now I don't know about you but I have some naysayers in my life... and bless their hearts I can't just shut the proverbial door in their face. We can pretend life is all goodness and light and there is no negative forces or influences but that just isn't the case! As I was thinking over what positive way we could face these challenges, I remembered a favorite poem of mine by Shel Silverstein. I read it as a child, and it has stayed with me all these years. I decided to write it out as our New Year's Day Inspiration. 
In order to remind my family to stay positive and keep their faith, I will be regularly writing positive affirmations, encouragement and ideas on the chalk board I made out of an old door. It is hanging in our dining room, where it will be seen daily. Though I love ALL the beautiful chalk board art out there, I wanted this board to be simple and something I would not mind erasing regularly. This is real life in this house... and as beautiful as I want things to be on the outside, it is important to make sure we are working on the things which matter. 
There will also be a little box of fabric scraps in the sewing table drawer. If anyone has a worry, they can write it on the scrap and leave it hanging at the door (on the hooks). No need to worry or carry a heavy load. As the hooks fill up we will toss them in the fire and let them be handled by a power greater than ourselves
As you take the first steps into this new year, may your family be blessed. May you find encouragement, friendship, and love. Thank you for celebrating this last year with my family! 
Looking back over 2012, and the words a "wild ride"  race to the forefront of my mind! At the end of January, the blog was only receiving about 50 hits a day, and the FB Fan Page had just hit 100 likes. Those of you following along have been a bigger blessing than you will ever know! 

Another grown child graduated and began life on his own!
Another graduated from 8th grade!
... Moved to a new life and new state with a little break down on the way! A small rental was a large challenge!
The Cowboy survived a work related accident- We could not have made it through without all the love and prayers! Thank you for following The Cowboy Chronicles.
...another move because our first rental made our daughter ill!
Moments of Normal... well needed and we canned and canned for fall on our Happy Ol' Homestead
Made a House a Home and Decorating on a Dime!
Celebrations and Holiday Happenings
Mayhem, Mishaps, Risky Business, and turning trash to treasure!
Favorite Projects and Decorating
Opened my online shop "Cowgirls Chic Boutique" 
Our son proposed to his beautiful sweetheart!
Every year we say goodbye to the old year and hello to a new one by celebrating our Anniversary on New Years Eve! All in all we are thankful we made it through such a trying year and have been able to keep a sense of humor about it! We have so many new and exciting things planned in the coming year! Thank you for following our "wild ride" ! 
Out my back door this morning
Ok... so funny story... I have the house to myself (yeah sliding across the floor like Tom Cruise in Risky Business... only in my sweats...well not really.. as that could truly be risky business) and I'm feeling good. It is the first day in a long string of days I haven't woken up in pain or with a headache! Oh... this is grand! All the way to my toes lovely!

Pop a little raisin bread in the toaster oven... outta butter in the fridge... no worries there is ALWAYS a ton in the freezer... I have the BRILLIANT idea to add it to the toaster over for just a few seconds to soften it.

"Bloop Bloop".. you know...the sound FB makes when someone is messaging you... and I'm in a good mood so... I run over just to see who it is and get wrapped up in a conversation... Did you remember I had butter... in the toaster oven??

I didn't lol! Oh yeah... now we have a puddle of butter in our toaster oven... but I don't care because I'm rocking my sweats...I'm not in pain... my house is warm... I have it ALL to myself... I'm playing country music really loud and singing just as loud...and there is snow outside...yes snow... I love snow! It is fresh, new, and bright... it is a gift winter brings us. As it paints the landscape in its white beauty it reminds us to slow down and listen to the soft quiet and  the stillness of it all. It reminds me to recharge my batteries. It is something I often forget as a mother and wife. My cup is empty. 

Off goes the music.. On goes the coat ... breathe in... breathe out... nose red... cheeks rosy... body full of oxygen. No hurry. No hustle and bustle. Just me and the quiet only an empty house and fresh fallen snow can bring. Breathe in healing .. Breathe out thankfulness...yeah... Life is good. 

When my children were small, we loved to take them to the corn maze. We ALWAYS went during the daylight hours, when it wasn't spooky out and they could enjoy running their little legs off, with the added benefit they were exhausted when we returned home. The cowboy and I always packed a lunch or dinner with thermoses filled with soups and cocoa! 

One year, we arrived just at dusk which was a lot later than we were accustomed to. We were assured by the manager to just shout ahead "No Scare" and the goblins and ghosts hiding in the corn would not jump out and scare our little ones. You see, once night had fallen, it was time to scare the pants off those who enjoy it! 

We made it all the way through the maze with no incidences! I was just about to breathe a sigh of relief when I noticed a teenage young man sneak back around through the corn and jump out and scare my children anyways... even though we had said "No Scare." Without thinking, I chased that young man through the corn maze ... letting him know of my unhappiness. When I rejoined my husband and small children.. my son "Roo", who was maybe only 4 at the time, said, with his little lisp, "Mama, You scareded da monster." His eyes were big as saucersas he placed his little hand in mine. On the way home that night, instead of falling asleep, the children were excitedly discussing the fact their mother could scare away monsters. 

I was thinking of all my children today as I decorated for Fall and Halloween. I sure wish my children looked at me the way they did... back in the time... when I could scare away Monsters. I miss it. 

The end of summer is drawing near. During this time of the year I always feel the colors are more vivid and the world is bathed in a beautiful light. Visiting my mother is calming and there are certain items in her home which make me feel comfort.

Lovely bottles in the window
Love this bench
My Mama's Potting Table
Pineapple Mint
It really is the size of a plate
Summer Meet Fall
My mom has had these as long as I can remember
Plate Dahlias
Heirloom Veggies
Goodbye to Summer... Hello to Fall! There are just a few days where the two intertwine and it is the most lovely time of year.
Opening with Rodeo Princesses and Anthem
Most of ya'll who have been following this blog for sometime now are quite aware of my southern city upbringing. My family resided in Montana for the last 13 years and have recently relocated to a beautiful and still very rural Wyoming community. My daughter, whom we fondly call Lil' Bit is absolutely horse crazy. :) Anything she can possibly attend or be involved with in regards to horses is definitly at the top of her list. When our new landlords let us know there would be a "Horse Pulling" at the local fair grounds, she made sure she had all the info so we would not have any excuse to miss the event. Having never heard of "horse pulling" I was game but had no earthly clue what I was headed to. This blog will be very picture heavy, as I was in such awe of these awesome animals, I could not stop taking pictures. I'm sure the locals could tell we were not from the area...with all the picture taking and absolute amazement we had at what these draft horses can do!

For those of you not familiar with this event, I will explain it as best I can. There are three classes. The light weight team can weigh up to 3200 pounds! Middle weight is up to 3500 pounds and heavy weight is over that. Each team pulls a sled with weights added at intervals. There are strict rules in the sport to eliminate animal cruelty and from what I saw tonight these lovely beings are well loved and cared for and you can see the joy they have while pulling! It is considered a successful pull when the team stays within the roped off area (they cannot go out of bounds and must pull relatively straight) and meets the distance requirement. As the competition gets tougher and heavier the distances are measured as to how far a team pulled the weight to determine the winner. Teams are eliminated along the way when they cannot pull the additional weights.
The strength and beauty of these animals was simply amazing. It made me wonder how much work and effort it takes to get them to this level? 
It took three men everything they had to get these beautiful animals to remain steady in order to be hitched to the sled... they were just raring to pull and were so excited. I really felt the horses love of pulling ... I think it must be in the DNA because I have NEVER seen anything like it! I however would not want my hands anywhere near all those hooks and moving parts! There were a couple of times I was sure someone was going to lose a finger when a horse took off sooner than planned!

This team won the light weight competition pulling 8500 pounds 2 ft 3 inches! The competition was very very close ! The middle weight team was again won by this same owner with a different set of horses and they pulled 9500 pounds! We left before the end of the heavy weight, as the sun had sunk below the horizon and we were freezing after 3 hours of competition! 
I was quite impressed to see the owners pull their team when they knew the next weight would be too much for their horses. Not once was it evident a team was pushed beyond their limits or put into jeopardy. 
If you ever have the opportunity to witness a draft pulling competition, I highly recommend it! Our first week here in Wyoming had given me a new appreciation for the west, and tonight I was reminded of how much I love the fierce and tough people of these NW states, such as Wyoming and Montana. While there are times I really want to head home to the gentle south of my childhood, there is something which holds me out here, perhaps the exhilaration of knowing there is just a little bit of untamed and wild wild west left and a desire to experience all it has to offer... within reason of course ;)
Star Valley Wyoming
Life has been chaos lately and chaos brings very little time to write. I think I've been postponing putting my thoughts to this page because I have been feeling a little less than positive lately. I don't like being a "little black rain cloud" and really would love to always be sunshine and light. Little Ms Pollyanna fits who I am better :) I also like to give things time to settle in before sharing them with others. I decided this blog is about our journey as a family, and it is important in life to not just paint the pretty picture for everyone, but to share some of the struggles as well... hoping it just might encourage or help another. :)

Sometimes closing a chapter in life is a little harder than one anticipates.  Leaving is hard. This choice to head a new direction feels a bit like a divorce more than a move. Partly due to some peoples  reactions to these changes.Sometimes in life we make decisions based on all the information we have combined with our needs, our goals, and a little bit of intuition thrown in. It can rock the boat and other peoples world.

 I think I've always been a people pleaser and though as I have gotten older I have become adept at making the hard choices, it still makes me a little uncomfortable in my own skin to cause others discomfort. No one likes to feel their reasons are being judged when they make important life decisions, particularly not me. Sometimes one gets to a place where things cannot get any worse and you have to just push on through and do what you believe in your heart to be the very best and right thing to do. 

My sweetheart and I have made the decision to move from Montana to Wyoming (not to the moon people). There is no turning back. No amount of argument, reasoning and accusations of “treason” will turn this vehicle around. Threats that we are ruining our kids lives by moving them in high school are not working (the new school has more opportunities, so yes we are putting their futures first).  No amount of sugar coating “good intentions” cover up the fact there are those who are butting in where they dont belong and quite frankly have stepped on my toes enough to get my Irish up and that is never a good thing. We know in our hearts this is the right decision for ourselves and our family. 

At 39 years of age I'm learning more about myself and those I choose to have around me and in my childrens lives. There are lovely things about the community in which we have chosen to live these last 12 years, and there are also negative. One will find those things anywhere. We are not running from negative but moving in a positive direction. We are not making judgements which say this community in which we have resided  isn't a lovely and beautiful place to raise a family or somehow others decision to do so is somehow wrong. Our lives are just taking a fork in the road, down a different path. 

When we weighed this decision,  at first we came to the realization that staying here would be way worse than leaving for our family but more importantly as time has passed it has become abundantly clear staying does not meet the goals and commitment to our futures we hold. We realize it leaves a hole in the lives of others. We realize the local school loses a lot of funding. We recognize the blessings and benefits of this place we have called home and we honor the place it has had in our lives. We will desperately miss our friends and family. There is recognition change is hard and work... we have never shied away from hard work and we won't start now. We love all the positive people who have been a part of our lives for so long. We also KNOW with that certain knowing one feels deep down in their gut, we have made the “right” decision to “set sail on this new adventure.”

We are not looking to convince anyone of it. I just keep praying for a little respect and space while we navigate these changes. We've spent the time honoring others feelings and hearing people out.  After an hour on the phone with my handsome man last night he wisely stated "Baby, we've come to the chapter where the time for that has passed...Elvis has left the building." (he always makes me laugh)  "We will no longer entertain any discussion about it."  Seth rarely makes ultimatums, and I always come back with "the great Oz has spoken" when he does. He is right. The time has come to settle into our decision, wear it proudly so to speak and move ahead. No children are staying behind. This family is embarking on a new journey. Tired as I may be I have this stirring of anticipation in me… it's time to put my big girl pants on and get to work on the next chapter in our lives. 

Maybe I'm weird... scratch that... I know I am weird. In this getting ready to move process there have been some difficulties we have run up against. One such area is in getting our animals to new homes. I feel like those people down at the humane shelter who have 3 million questions. I want to know our loved animals are going to kind and humane homes... even our animals who are raised for farming and food purposes such as the pigs. We have several sows and a boar who we are desperately looking for homes for. We don't want Max Boarus, Ms Olivia, Tinkerbelle, or Thumbelina going to homes to be eaten but to be used as breeding animals. Every time we think we have found a home, there is something I don't care for and it is causing no end to the frustration the men in my home are feeling. 

This presents a delima and many discussions with my family. We raise a small amount of animals on this farm. I believe in giving care to our animals which is far above most industry standards, believing even animals raised for meat should be treated with dignity and respect. If you are what you eat, I want to know what I put into my body lived and died being treated well. Call me weird...that is ok. We had an offer of a home for the sows but the woman plans to raise like 80 of them. I just could not wrap my head around this. Taking our small farm raised animals and placing them somewhere to be ignored and placed in small pens. Yuck! 

Ms. Olivia has been talked to, scratched, and appreciated since we picked her up at 7 weeks of age. My cowboy sat up with her through long nights of laboring piglets into the world, not leaving her side until all was well. I know she is just a pig... but she was our pig. Tinkerbelle and Thumbelina were hand raised on the bottle... there were quite a few nights I didn't think they would make it but they did. Mr Max comes like a dog when you whistle at him! He is the friendliest boar I have ever seen! They were never raised with the intent of being food. 

We do raise pigs for food too but we give them reminder names such as HAMlet and HAMrietta.  You really shouldn't name food... it becomes very difficult later. I'm holding out for a farmer who raises animals ethically and with kind regard. Just as we found a home for our duck with a family who loves their animals and will treat her well, I want the same for the pigs. :) 

So wish me luck, as I endeavor to find a home for the rest of our animals being left behind, and pray I do not stretch my husband's patience to the breaking point. Giggle at me if you wish... you may even shake your head as my cowboy does. I just smile, bat my eyes and tell him "You knew what you were getting into when you married me, honey"  and am thankful he isn't one to ignore my concerns... otherwise there might be more tears than we could all handle right now. This softy is going to go make up a flier for my mama to hand out in her community looking for kind farmers who want to breed pigs :) 

ALA Natural :)
My kids and I were driving in the car the other day and this DJ starts telling us about some sort of National Movement called "No Makeup Mondays" (NMM)The idea behind it is to feel empowered as a woman not to wear makeup. According to the DJ the organizers believe women need to know they are beautiful without makeup and by committing to NMM they are sending a statement about beauty and empowerment. My son and I started discussing it and it was really interesting to hear his views. He really felt "most" women are beautiful without it but does have a few friend's moms who he thinks are scary bare faced. I was happy to hear he thought women she feel beautiful and empowered and it should not be about their outer looks. Maybe we are doing something right with our boys. 

When I was a young girl. wearing makeup was a right of passage. My grandmother would go nowhere without "putting her face on." My mom taught me to wear makeup to enhance my natural features, and nowhere was there some discussion about it being only for the purpose of attracting the opposite sex. She actually always supported us looking as natural as possible. 

I'm one of those women who can wear makeup or not wear makeup and I think I look and feel just fine. My first though upon hearing this was "I enjoy wearing makeup and rarely leave the house without it because I LIKE IT." Then I really decided to ask myself how comfortable would I be headed out of the house without it? Would I feel the need to explain to others why I wasn't wearing it? I thought of the times I have run to the store "without my face on" and I can recall I almost always get asked if I am sick? lol I usually answer "no...just lazy today." 

 This DJ on the radio was under the assumption it took 2 hours for women to get ready for work because of makeup and this would give us ladies an opportunity to sleep in once a week. A. It has never taken me two hours to put on my makeup...more like ten minutes... and B. A large percentage of women have kids so sleeping in really isn't going to happen with or without makeup. So, the point of this movement is not to save time. It is to really get women thinking about their own beauty. 

I listened to this commentary and I thought about it a few days and was still baffled as to how going without makeup would make women feel empowered. Maybe this is because I live in Montana and there are lots of women here who go ala natural.  I am ALL for natural beauty....I'm all for empowerment...I am all for Real Beauty and Im all for talking about it!  I'll wear makeup or not wear make up when I please but after watching the Today show with the ladies I have come to the conclusion there are some women and girls who need this message. 

I spent many years not even purchasing or wearing makeup because with seven I just didn't have the time.  Feeling self assured is important and many women Ive spoken with say they feel more vulnerable and self conscious  without makeup...they feel having the "mask of makeup"  makes them more put together and confident.

This dialog is important. As a  mom I am wondering what message I send about makeup, self worth, and self confidence to my girls? I want my girl to understand self confidence and beauty is more than skin deep and if a no makeup message is what women need to grasp this then Im ALL for it :) So, I have posted my no makeup...pre hair do.. and in my PJ's  face for all the world to see (and wouldn't you know it today I have a blemish hahaha). 

Rainbow Over Paradise copyright 2012
They say letting go is never easy. I have always wondered who "they" is but I am finding this true in some areas of my life. The most glaringly obvious place letting go comes difficult to me is with these kids flying the nest. It is truly a painful process ...more difficult with some kids than others. This move off the farm seems to be magnifying my feelings. I want to light some bridges afire and shout to the world "Ha...look...that is one bridge I NEVER want to cross again" and in other ways I am clinging to dear life for each moment I have left. 

I had to help my sweet cowboy man start cleaning out our shop. Letting go of my little store and coffee shop has been painful. We put a lot of love and work into it, but I am just going to have faith Ill have the opportunity to open one down in Wyoming. :) Each one of us are sacrificing something to make this move. 

Last week my husband's Ms Sweet Olivia went in to labor without him here. I am afraid I am not much help in the farrowing department. I went up and talked and comforted her ...but she really struggled this time. For some unknown reason her placenta separated and delivered too soon and she lost 4 piglets. She spent the next few days not feeling so hot. 

After a couple of days, when it was apparent she was still struggling, my MIL and her friend who has experience in "pig matters" decided it would be prudent to take a "feel" and make sure no more piglets were left inside. So, they came a knocking on MY door? This is one of those moments I want to say WTF? (I didn' least not out loud!) We trudged up to the barn through the melting mud and muck. 

The ladies had rubber gloves, KY Jelly, disinfectant, and towels. The task was described in great detail with the warning "If she stands up...get your arm out of there quick as it could get broken" Huh?!!  After I made it abundantly clear I would not be acting as "vet"  but would indeed cheer anyone on who wanted to do this task;  through threats the vet would be expensive and still holding my ground, my MIL decided she loved her son enough to accomplish the task...bless her (heart). I have to say it was an experience which still turns my stomach, and all was well in the end. Pig husbandry might be one of those bridges Ill be thankful is behind us :)

We are rapidly finding wonderful homes for our animal friends and not without a little grieving. Every time Ms Olivia has babies, I attach human emotions to it. I wonder if she grieves when her babies are sent off to other farms? I wonder at all of life and how everything seems to be a process of letting go. I just have to remind myself that after the rain comes an opportunity for the rainbow. This may be a thunder storm of our own choosing, but it hasn't been easy to say goodbye and let go of the way of life we have enjoyed for the last 12 years and with the possible opportunity of renting a farm house in our new area I am confident we will still be able to enjoy our way of life. 

Being one who must look forward and to the positive possibilities in is to the expectation of Rainbows in life!