Thursday, May 18, 2017

March/April Calving

March and April calving is in full on calving mode. We had very cooperative weather this year so that is always a huge help.  We try to be around when we can to spend a little time with Kory and doing what we can to be a part.  Some days its more practical than others, but we enjoy it when we are out there.  

We've got a new gate opener in the family! 

She's only *slightly* proud of her new role.  

She's a ranch girl and a cook! Scrambling eggs....

and flipping pancakes! 

Juney's not the only one creating great things in the kitchen. I had a tub of plain yogurt that Quinn thought needed a little pizazz.  He added strawberries and chocolate syrup.  Then labeled the lid accordingly.  I didn't exactly know he was doing this. I thought he was just adding strawberries to his personal bowl of yogurt.  He decided to "make the whole tub so everyone could have some."  Gee, Thanks. 

Jon came to watch one of Quinn's basketball game.  As always, Jaylie June took very good care of her. 

Our friend Carley was headed to senior prom.  She and her date stopped by our house to take pictures with my kids and the Oestrieich kiddos.  We all love Miss Carley! 

Back at the ranch, Q is getting lessons in ear tagging.  Won't be long til he'll be able to do it himself! Its a lot of fun to see Quinn learn more and more. Kory is divinely patient and I am so proud of both of these boys! 

 We needed some more jam and some fresh air so we drove about 15 miles to the Amish store.  We got our jam, yummy sandwiches for lunch, and of course ice cream! The giant lawn chair is always a favorite.

Jail's new bike/Quinn's old bike completed its transformation.  I moved her basket from her tricycle to this bike and now its all HERS! 

I posted this photo on Instagram and said something about Kory balancing work and family! Hauling a kid and a calf around is no big deal to this guy.  In all seriousness, its a tough time of year in some ways with him being fully consumed with all these babies. Despite literally working around the clock, he does such a good job of balancing all of his work and still taking good care of all of us. We are happy to spend time with him out there its a happy place for us to get to tag a long and be together working.  The kids are excited to go because they hope they get to ride the 4 wheeler and their dad is fully aware that they love him for his 4 wheeler.  

I always take a picture of 903 pair.  Sort of my shoutout to my homeland in the 903! 

While all my friends in Texas are making their first trips to the swimming pool and having water day at school, Spring in Montana hits hard......

It was actually a heavy beautiful snow that lasted a couple of days and then melted away.  Its just sort of funny to me that it can blow in like this in April! 

Jaylie, the lover of all things babies, gets a really big kick out of these "cutie calves" as she calls them.  Kory had a calf that needed a little help eating, so he had the mom in the chute so the baby could get a chance to eat more easily.  J was there coaching and supporting her cutie calf the whole time.  

Maybe one of our favorite pictures.... Just a girl chilling with a calf thats just the right size of her.  

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Kanyon Turns 10

Double digits.  Two Hands full. Half way to 20.  Kanyon Luke is 10 years old.  Thinking about 10 years on the one hand seems like surely we've lived at least 20 years because I feel like some days are worth a year by themselves. And quite honestly, his gig isn't always "time flies when you're having fun" kind of a thing.  On the other hand, he doesn't SEEM like a 10 year old and in so many ways..his maturity and growth has sort of allowed me to linger in babyhood--toddlerhood--preschool land longer than most moms so I don't feel like he's 10. But the calendar doesn't lie, so I guess my boy is 10 whole years old.  

Since his birthday fell on a Sunday, we had to buy the balloons on Saturday.  The kids always love picking out the color of their balloons and this day was no exception. I think with the help of Quinn's bright idea, Kanyon decided to do all PJ Mask colors for his balloons. He loves that show so much and was so excited to have balloons the color of Cat Boy, Gecko, and Owlette! That sort of fueled the rest of the "theme" of his party.  They were all so excited and having so much fun with it.  Jaylie and I hung crate paper streamers and it reminded me that all the cutesy stuff is cool and all, but nothing says "PARTY" like streamers and balloons.  Done.  Of course the streamers were PJ Mask insprired red, blue, and green. 

Saturday was Uncle Tye's birthday, so we went out to the ranch to have dinner to celebrate his birthday.  Driving up the driveway, Kory was out in the Ranger checking, so Kanyon jumped in with Daddy to make a run through the calving lot and take care of things before Tye's dinner.  

Sunday morning he woke up another year older! There was quite the buzz of excitement with all three of them.  I love how little kids are just excited its someone's birthday even if its not theirs! Kanyon's big birthday surprise was downstairs waiting for him.  He was SURE it was a drum set....he'd been saying he needed a drum set for weeks. Thats the biggest, easiest NO I've said in a long time. Ha! All the family on both sides went in together and got Kanyon a swing! 
Here they are all 3 piled inside! 

For now, since we are renting, the swing will hang on the stand, but someday we'd like to hang it from the ceiling.  

He seemed to have forgotten about the drum set, so I'm glad he wasn't disappointed! This is something that we know will be fun for him, but also something that gives him a lot of comfort and calm. Swinging really helps regulate him and calm him so hopefully it will be helpful for him AND fun! 

Sunday after church we turned our small group meeting into his party! All his buddies were there and brought very thoughtful gifts.  Most notably the walkie talkies that he was also hoping he would get for his birthday.  He even said, "I didn't get a drum set but I DID get walkie talkies!!!!" He was very excited and we loved having some family and friends to celebrate with him.  I am horrible and only took videos at the party which do me no good on the blog. But it as a fun, loud time and a great day! 

After 10 years of making a cake for a kid who hates cake and couldn't come up with any ideas for what he wanted on a cake anyways...I DIDN'T MAKE A CAKE! FREEDOM! I didn't leave party guests high and dry though, I had Kory's mom make her Snickerdoodle cookies. Its the only cookie that Kanyon has ever eaten so she made those for him and his guests to enjoy.  The rest of the meal was 100% Kanyon food. Brisket, grapes, bread, a slaw salad he LOVES, pickles, and lemonade.  

When he got to school the next day he learned that he was the STAR student for his whole school that month.  He got to carry the eagle around, got a new backpack, and got to pick a prize from the principals office.  He chose a free game of bowling.  And starting about 2 minutes after he got that prize he began asking if he could go bowling now? He is PUMPED about going bowling.  We are waiting for Daddy's schedule to slow down so we can all go bowling together.  

He also got to choose a friend to come to his little room and play marbles with him.  Turns out Kanyon dominates marbles at school.  They learned in PE a few months ago and his PE teacher said he's amazing and gets a huge kick out of it! She even gave him his own set of marbles so he can play whenever he wants.  He chose Aiden to play with and they had a fun time.  What  fun week for Kanyon! 

As with any child, each year brings so many new and different things.  This year was NOT our easiest year with all of the medical drama.  It sometimes takes a reflective time like his birthday to retrieve all those feelings that I sometimes forget.  Like how INCREDIBLE this kid really is. How hard he works and how amazing it is that he can do the things that he does.  He NEVER slows down, he has yet to not progress and move forward in anything he's been given.  He is hilarious, delightful, friendly, cheerful, loving, and kind in the midst of constant stress and challenges.  I think other people see this more easily than me.  I take for granted what he overcomes on a daily basis (minute by minute basis, really) because its just him. And its just our life. So I think I loose sight of just how impressive and remarkable his life is.  Its a good perspective for me to come back to and one that motivates me to parent from a place of compassion and pride as opposed to the place of frustration, stress, and chaos that often times rules my mind.  I hope his 11th year brings more growth and more success, I hope his body can adjust and find peace when frustrations and anger run so high.  I hope he laughs even more and I hope he continues to make good friends.  I was talking to my brother Clay not too long ago about Kanyon and about how people will sometimes ask me if I could, would I change things and make the twins both OK.  Or has the pain and struggle taught me so much that I would say I wouldn't change a thing.  The answer is easy for me. Of course I would change things.  I would give anything to have both babies strong and healthy. But what is different now is that after 10 years of knowing Kanyon as he is, I can't even imagine what he would be like.  For lack of a better word, what would "normal" Kanyon be like?! When he was younger it was easy for me to imagine but now, 10 years in, I can't even imagine him any other way.  Who he is is completely wrapped up in all the things that have happened to him. Separating them is impossible.  Not that any of these thoughts really matter because its a theoretical question, but it was an interesting point in the scope of my life as his mom to realize that I don't even know who he would be any other way.  While I am always sad I have a daughter I'll never get to raise and I am raising a son who has incredible challenges, I like the thought of him, exactly the way he is, feeling like the only way to be.  Exactly like him.  All the tiny things that add up to making him Kanyon Luke- its all I know and its all I can imagine and being at that point is the deepest connection and the deepest love and the most sacred comfort that he is mine and our hearts are absolutely beating perfectly in time with each other. I don't know how to express the connection that we have and I don't want to sound like its a better connection or a deeper connection than I have with my other kids, but when there is a dependency and a lifetime of struggle (for both of us), unique circumstances and situations that we go through as a part of our relationship, something happens deep inside that ties us together in a powerful way.  To be truly needed for every single aspect of his life, while suffocating at times, is also the very thing that sort of melts us into the same existence.  I can't begin to imagine what its like for Kanyon to navigate and live his actual life and I can't pretend to know how he feels and unfortunately I don't always even try, but I do know that the 2 of us are bound together through horrible circumstances and through digging to the very deepest part of ourselves and then waking up and doing it all over again.  He has altered my "motherhood" and he has changed the way we do family.  I'm not able to do things I always thought I would do.  Our life looks very different than what I'd hoped for at times, and our future will be very different from what we thought, but when its all said and done all of us in this house will be better people because of Kanyon.  So happy birthday to the heart of our family, to the grit of our family, to the best laugher in the world, and to the absolute hardest worker I know.  

Saturday, May 13, 2017


I drove by the yearlings and they seemed to be on display for  me! 

Miss June has no trouble bossing a calf (or anything else) around.  Kory said he told her to trail that calf in and she demanding a sorting stick. Ha.  

She was so pleased with her self that she used the "Sharp sticky thing" to move the hay for the Mama in the chute while her calf ate.  For lots of different reasons and situations, they have to put the cow in the chute/head catch to keep her still.  They open up the side and the calf steps up on that little platform and can eat with the Mama standing still. If the calf is needing help sucking or something, they can be right there close to help it eat.  I always tell/tease Kory that he's totally a Bovine Lactation Consultant.  

Here's the calf getting a nice meal and the Mama eating the hay Jaylie gave her.  Everyone is pleased! 

The homeschool group that we meet with on Wednesdays has a music class and the kiddos had a music show one night.  It was fun to see them perform and have fun.  

Sayler and Hayven came to town during their spring break! Yay for us! 

When they're together, they all love to jump on the hay bales.  

Hayven and Quinn are such sweet buddies.  

What I wouldn't give to know what they were discussing here.  

The most fun thing happened to me! I got ZERO pictures and I'm SO MAD.  But one day, Kory said "You have surprise company coming to visit.  You'll go to Billings to pick them up on Thursday." So fun!!!!  So me and Jaylie set off to Billings to the airport to pick up "the mystery guest" as we referred to her.  I walked in the aiport and looked for a familiar face.  I saw KASEY WILSON!!!!!! One of my dearest and best friends had flown from Texas for part of her spring break.  What a friend! It turns out, Kory and contacted her a few months ago because he knows this is a difficult time of year. I spend a lot of time without Kory, doing all the parent stuff alone, and we all get pretty worn down.  He knew Kasey would be a dose of fun and a great boost for me.  What a man! We had a great time while Kasey was here.  We said SO MANY WORDS and had a great time.  She got to see a calf born and we showed her a little around town. It was such a fun visit and so good to have some time with her.  All of the things Kory was hoping the visit would be it was that and more!  Of course she didn't come empty handed, she brought these glasses for the kids! 

Miss Pouty girl didn't get her way.

Towards the end of her visit, things got a little crazy.  Kanyon had been complaining of his stomach hurting and saying there was a porcupine in there.  By Saturday afternoon, he couldn't walk, laugh, cough, or anything else without it hurting really bad. We were all quite uncomfortable because this was VERY similar to how his shunt infection started in Seattle.  We saw our PCP on Friday and got bloodwork and X-rays done.  Nothing really alarming showed up so we just kept on rolling hoping for improvement.  When things were worse on Saturday, we talked with the Neurosurgery team in Seattle and went back and forth on what to do.  It was frustrating for everyone because we didn't know if anything was going on, but after what we'd all just been through, we were scared that it might  be happening again.  So we talked and debated and the Dr's said they really wanted Kanyon's shut to be tapped so that they could test the CSF to make sure there was no infection.  No one was going to feel very comfortable until that was done.  Somewhere in there, we decided that me and Kanyon would just fly to Seattle and see how he was and they could see us in the clinic on Monday.  If we got there and things were worse, we could go to their ER.  So we bought tickets to Seattle and hurried to get to Billings.  Poor Kasey was with us through all of this, so she went with us to Billings.  She was going to be flying out early Sunday morning anyways so thankfully it didn't cut our trip too short.  On the way to Billings Kanyon had this really weird episode that scared us both.  I didn't want to get on  a plane with him like that so we just went to the ER in Billings.  This was SOOOO me and Kasey.  She has been with me through so many medical appointments, it was almost comical that she was along for this one.  They ran a few tests in Billings, but couldn't find anyone that was comfortable tapping his shunt.  SOOOOOOOOOOO they sent us to Seattle.  Kasey left the hospital late that night.  She was able to use our car to get her to the hotel and airport.  The care flight team got to us around midnight and we headed out to Seattle. I was annoyed that this was happening and PRAYING this was NOT the same trouble we'd just had.  The flight was smooth and we got to the ER there at Seattle Children's about 4 am.  The ER doesn't know night or day so it was confusing.  Different people were in and out checking things out.  New X-rays, etc.  A neurosurgeon came and tapped the shunt and we waited and waited.  Around 9am they told us the fluid was negative so that was good. But they wanted to keep him in the hospital to see if we could figure out what was going on.  Kanyon kept asking "Are we going to spend the night here?" We DID just spend the night there but he didn't know it.  We got to our room and one of our old nurses was our nurse and she was literally dancing a jig to welcome us. 
Here we are back in our all to familiar position of hospital bed+hair twirling. 

 We were relieved that there wasn't an infection so that took tons of stress off of us. Somewhere in there I missed an entire night's rest, so the first night we were in the room I was HAPPY to SLEEP!  We spent a couple of days trying to figure exactly what was going on, but we never could figure out exactly what the problem was.  There was some inflammation on his intestines and a few other things, but nothing that gave us a lot of information.  After a couple of days, he got better and decided that we could head home.  While we were there, we were able to meet with the program director for their Tone Management Program which offers some surgeries and programs that we are looking into for Kanyon. I was glad to have those visits face to face so at least we got something good from all of this.  

While I was gone, Jaylie was kissing Murphy, as usual.  

We had a much easier flight home.  Some friends in Billings had taken our car to their house to save us on parking $$.  They returned the car so that when our flight got in at midnight we had a car waiting.  The car had been washed and a bag of snacks was in the front seat. Such thoughtful, helpful friends.  Since it was super late, we got a hotel in Billings and crashed that night.  We headed home the next day a little baffled as to what had happened but mostly just REALLY glad it was no big deal.  We have since found a Neurosurgeon in Great Falls that will tap his shunt if this were to ever happen again.  Yay.  
In the rush of leaving for Billings, we DID NOT TAKE A PORCH PICTURE WITH KASEY! I'm still not over it.  

Here we are in the care headed home from Billings.  This is how Kanyon travels and it makes me laugh every time.  

We did lots of elevator riding while we were in the hospital.  We went to the gift shop and Kanyon picked out a couple of things for Q and J.  All of this doesn't just affect Kanyon, these 2 go through their own disruptions when this sort of thing happens.  We just wanted them to know we love them and are proud of how they handle things even when its hard.  

Thus ends all medical drama.  I hope to have nothing more to report for a very long time.  

February and The Beginning of Calving

I think this picture was taken the day after we got home! Murphy and the kiddos having a little fun in the snow at Gram and Chief's. 

The snow finally melted enough to get the bikes out.  We put the training wheels back on Q's old bike and now Jaylie June has a "new" bike! She was so excited to have a REAL bike, not a tricycle.

Drumroll..............The first calf!!!  
Also known as the beginning of insanity, busy-ness, sloppy mess, unmentionable things on Kory's work clothes, late nights, early mornings, ear tagging, putting out pairs, afterbirth, wobbly legs, sweet Mamas, and evening checks with the whole fam.  We always joke that its silly to be so excited about the first calf because everyone knows this is a really busy, tiring time of year.  But we can't help but be excited.  Its one of my favorite things about ranching, the changing of seasons.  When each new season rolls around it is exciting! And by the time its over, we're all kind of over it and ready to move on.  The only thing as exciting (or maybe more) as the first calf is the LAST one! ha! Let the good times roll! 

Rachael took this great photo of a new calf getting cleaned off by her mother and lots of nosey gals taking a peek at the herd's newest member.  

I find myself giggling at all these cows, imagining what they'd be saying to each other and how they feel in relation to my human mothering experiences.  I get such a kick out of it. Like how many times have all of us gals gathered around and gawked over a brand new baby?! 

Jaylie June watching from the warm shed as Daddy was helping a little calf get some milk. 

She stood in the warm shed watching as Quinn gave the calf a bottle.  I, too, chose warmth in this moment. 

Juney was eventually drawn in to the calf.  This was her first time to feed a calf! 

This was just such a beautiful day at the ranch as we drove up.

Kory sent me this picture one day when Quinn was working with him, leading the calf down the alley.  With his sorting stick of course. 

Pretty blue sky with the moon already showing. 

Murphy worked with us til dark one night so we gave him a warm ride in our Suburban and dropped him off at the  mailbox on our way out.  Jaylie was soooooooooo happy. 

I played in a volleyball tournament one weekend and a girl brought a baby pig! It was SOOOOO cute! It had been born the night before and got too cold.  She had to keep it warm and feed it every 2 hours so it hung out at the gym with us all day. I'm thinking it was a funny glimpse into rural America.  You show up to a volleyball tournament and there's a baby big there.  

 Another unseasonably warm February day meant we all got to spend time with Dad and the calves.

Of course Murphy spent the day with us. We love good ol' Murph. 

There was a lone calf laying out in the calving lot all alone.  Its mother had gone to eat and left it alone in the sun so Quinn wanted to go pet it. I totally didn't think the calf would let him get close enough to touch. Usually after they're a couple of days old, they move away from us pretty quick.  I made sure to take pictures as Q was getting close before the calf ran away....except the calf didn't run!!  Q plopped right down and snuggled with this little baby forever! He was so excited and it just looked sooo sweet.  

just a boy and a calf chillin' in the grass.  

I took way too many pictures, but it was just adorable. The whole set up could never be recreated.  It was warm(ish), no snow, dry ground so the calving lot wasn't all boggy, poopy, and messy.  By the time we made Quinn get up so we could get moving, he'd decided the calf's name was Tucker. 

A little fencing lesson going on here.  

Q and I went on another Showdown Ski day with the Homeschool group. It was cold and snowy but so much fun! 

Out of nowhere Jaylie June decides to write on the back of the seat in the car!  First of all, WHAT IN THE WORLD? REALLY?! Since when is writing on the car ok?  Second of all, she wrote mirror image of her name.  If you're gonna write on the seat DON'T WRITE BACKWARDS!