Days 16 and 17 – Thoughts on exercise

I have to confess, I’m a little sore today. Not as bad as I should be, but a little nonetheless. I ran a 5K yesterday.

Well, actually “ran” is a strong term. Let’s just leave it at: I finished a 5K yesterday. 😉

I thought I had been working out at a fairly reasonable interval. I thought that my knee injury from this summer wouldn’t be a problem. I thought that the weather would be great.

I thought wrong.

After finishing the race, my friend Joey and I made a pact, it goes like this: No more running races in North Dakota that take place prior to mid-May or after September 15. It’s a good pact to have. Yesterday morning was cold, and windy, and did I mention the rain?

But the reward was worth it. We have an Ugly Sweater beanie and we were given an Angry Orchard Hard Cider to drink. All for the low fee of about $40. (And they did have a toy drive to Toys for Tots, so it is a charitable event.)

Can someone explain that to me? I paid some organization cash so that I could run (not on pavement, but mostly crappy lawn-like terrain), get a hat that I will never wear again and a glass of cider. Now, mind you, the cider was great, but that was the most expensive cider I’ve ever had. Not only that, but I wouldn’t even consider running three miles to a grocery store to get one beer, let alone on a cold, windy, nasty day.

But it’s not about the run, it’s not about the reward, it’s about the moment. As I have been learning from those around me, life isn’t just about what you get out of it, it’s about the journey you take to get there. And yesterday was indeed a journey.

Today I’m a little sore, tomorrow I’m most certain I’ll be even a little more sore. And yet, the pain will go away, the muscles will relax, my knee will forgive me and all will be right with the world…and I’ll have one more day that will forever live on in my memory.

And that’s the stuff that life is made of.

It wasn't just a 5K, it was a day with a great friend, complete with some pretty amazing memories! Thanks, Joey!

It wasn’t just a 5K, it was a day with a great friend, complete with some pretty amazing memories! Thanks, Joey!

Day 14 – Thoughts on working

After an almost six-year hiatus, I started working again (outside the home) this fall. It’s funny when I run into people locally and they see me all dressed up like a grown up. Apparently the last few years I must have really gotten “comfortable.” 😉

But I sometimes get comments that I don’t expect, like:

But what about the boys? Don’t they need you?

or

How do you have time for all of it?

or

I didn’t know it was getting that tough.

Let me do a little clarifying: My boys still have my attention, fully and completely. And my boss understands, fully and completely. And she’s pretty darn amazing about it.

How do I have time? Well, I don’t. Truthfully. But I make time. I make time for work, I make time for my boys, I make time for cooking, shopping, laundry…I may skimp on the cleaning from time to time (or some would say always)…I make time. I don’t wait for the time fairy to drop me an hour here or there. It doesn’t happen. Do I regret the time I spent home with my kids? HECK NO! Never! But I am where I need to be, right here, right now. And it’s never felt so right before. I digress.

So many hours spent in hospitals with this little dude. Soooooo many hours.

So many hours spent in hospitals with this little dude. Soooooo many hours.

Are times tough? Dear goodness. I guess I kind of understand the curiosity. But rest assured, my decision to work off the farm is all about fulfillment and living out a dream, not because I need to put food on the table. But thanks for the concern.

Although work may be a four-letter word, it doesn’t have to be. I go to work and feel challenged, driven to improve, excited to learn the next step, motivated to improve myself…I don’t even know if I can explain it all, but that’s getting pretty close.

And don’t worry, I still spend plenty of time doing “farm stuff.” But that doesn’t seem like “work” either.

A Saturday evening, spent in a peaceful tractor, chasing a combine.

A Saturday evening, spent in a peaceful tractor, chasing a combine.

Work, don’t work. Do what is right for you. Every decision in life is one that leads us down another path. I just so happen to be very satisfied on the path I’m on right now. And without my other paths, I’d never have arrived at where I am. (Stick with me, it makes complete sense in my head.)

As someone, somewhere once said, “Happiness is just a state of mind.”

I truly have the best of all worlds.

Day 13 – Thoughts on hunting

I hunt. And by that, I mean that I actually shoot wild animals and use them for food…and occasionally decorations. (It’s the woman in me.)

This weekend was the opening weekend for deer season where I live. I went out, by myself, and walked, waited, and tried my best to think like a deer. I apparently suck at that, but my luck tends to be rather high. As I was getting ready to head home, my sister and her friend told me that there was a nice buck in our barnyard. (How many times do I tell people that we need to start in our own backyards???) 😉

After quite the little escapade, I had my tag filled, meaning my season was done for the year. Yay!

I would consider it a successful deer hunt! A nice 5X5 buck whose antlers will hang on my wall and whose meat will fill my freezer.

I would consider it a successful deer hunt! A nice 5X5 buck whose antlers will hang on my wall and whose meat will fill my freezer.

So why do I hunt? Well, it’s not just the thrill of the chase (although, I will admit that I’m kind of fond of that part.), and it’s not just because venison is so very, very nummy. No, it’s not just that at all. It’s because it’s the humane thing to do.

Did I fall and hit my head?

No, in fact, I have most of my faculties pretty well straightened out. And after what I saw a few years ago, I will support every season that is opened for wild animals. (I guess I should put in a “within reason” clause in here, just because I don’t want to be called out on this sometime in the future.) That doesn’t mean I will hunt in every season, but I will support the right to hunt.

It wasn’t so very long ago that we had a deer problem in our yard. In. Our. Yard. Having to bury approximately 200 deer that year was hard, watching all that meat go to waste was hard, knowing that it could have been prevented was hard.

We found deer, frozen in our feed.

We found deer, frozen in our feed.

This is a pile of deer carcasses that were collected from our hay yard a few years ago. Approximately 60-80 deer in this group. We had hundreds in our yard, and many died that winter. To make a long story short, our hay was too rich for their system and we could get no help in dispersing them from our land.

This is a pile of deer carcasses that were collected from our hay yard a few years ago. Approximately 60-80 deer in this group. We had hundreds in our yard, and many died that winter. To make a long story short, our hay was too rich for their system and we could get no help in dispersing them from our land.

So from now on, I will actively do my part to ensure that the deer population is controlled, and that we are proactive in our steps to ensure a healthy habitat. The key word being “healthy.”

And next year, I will teach my son the skills required to hunt. Typical? Maybe not. But I cannot wait for the chance to show him what my dad and grandpa taught me.

Day 12 – Thoughts on coffee

I used to hate coffee. In fact, up until this summer, I never even owned a coffee pot (the bad-boy I own now is a whopping 4-cup machine). But that’s changed since I started working in an office (and this pot is a 12-cup).

Coffee.

Apparently, I’m an adult now, who’d a thunk? (Yes, grammar perfectionists, I just ran my nails down your chalkboard.)

But I’ve come to a realization that there IS too much of a good thing. And I need to start slowing down my coffee consumption. (But really, caramel drizzle is like a little slice of heaven.)

So my plan is this…I’ve limited myself to only three cups a day. That’s it.

Thank goodness. Maybe sleep will be a little easier to come by. 😉

Did I mention I switched cups?

I started with the cup on the right, but I've now limited my number of cups...and switched to the cup at the left. That should help.

I started with the cup on the right, but I’ve now limited my number of cups…and switched to the cup at the left. That should help.

Day 10 – Thoughts on time management

OK, here’s a blast of sheer honesty: I sometimes really suck at time management. Really. For example, here it is, 11:30 on Sunday night. I WILL get this post finished before midnight, because…well, because I promised a friend I would meet the 30 Day challenge head-on. I could easily cop out. I have a ton of valid, reasonable excuses.

But I won’t. (That’s another thought for another day.)

As I mentioned in the homework post, I’m trying to be a better role model. Really, I am. But I’m just grateful that tonight my kids are in bed, and here I sit, typing away. Using way too much punctuation, getting all snarky and pretending that anything I say really matters.

Who am I kidding?

So here are a few goals that I will strive towards this week:

  • finish all requested writing at least 12 hours prior to deadline,
  • read all assignments and submit them at least 2 hours prior to deadline (see, I’m not expecting miracles, just improvements),
  • not going to bed with dirty dishes in the sink (does stacking them on the counter count?),
  • folding AND putting away all laundry (and not allowing any one load to go through a wash cycle more than once…and not hitting the “fluff” button on the dryer more than once twice)

    I believe my machine is mocking me. Yeah, yeah, the clothes are clean. I get it. Unless you're going to jump into the dryer by yourself, leave me alone.

    I believe my machine is mocking me. Yeah, yeah, the clothes are clean. I get it. Unless you’re going to jump into the dryer by yourself, leave me alone.

Eh, that’s enough for one week. Maybe next week I’ll add in some other goals. Perhaps this 30 Days will not only get me blogging more regularly, but include some life-improvements as well? One could hope!

Day 9 – Thoughts on music

Eclectic. That’s the only way to describe my taste in music. There truly isn’t anything I won’t listen to once. My favorites include Blake Shelton, Buckcherry, Garth Brooks, Lorde, Katy Perry, Lady Antebellum, AC/DC, Chicago, Johnny Cash, George Jones, George Strait…well, it goes on and on and on.

Dance like no one is watching.

Dance like no one is watching.

Someone once told me that you can tell a lot about someone regarding their music interests. I question that. For some of us, music isn’t always about a message, or the lyrics, it’s about enjoying the rhythm, the beat, the ability to let the music just flow through your body.

Now, there are some songs that mean a lot to me. Some that I cannot listen to, unless I’m alone, such as Garth Brooks, “The Dance.” Some that remind me of people or places or things that I have experienced. And then there are songs that just make you get up and move. The songs that when they come on the jukebox, you stop what you are doing, grab the nearest person and enjoy every beat.

Music makes the world go ’round…and I couldn’t imagine a world without it.

So what’s your favorites? Care to share a few with me? Sure be cool if you did.

Day 8 – Thoughts on giving (Christmas Angel Project 2013)

This will be the third year that I have organized this project, and I’m hoping that this year is bigger and better than ever! 🙂angelI love the holidays. And I plan to do my part to spread some cheer. For those that haven’t participated before, here’s how it all started.

I need two things from you: 1) Names of people who could use a little pick-me-up, a spring in their step, a reminder that someone, somewhere is thinking of them; 2) Angels willing to give of their time and show a complete stranger the meaning of the season.

Are you on board???

Let’s rock this!

Use the “Contact Val” tab at the top of the page to give me your names (addresses and suggested gifts/needs) or volunteer to be an angel. I’ll do my best to match people up, and no matter what happens, rest assured knowing that every angel request is responded to…trust me.

I cannot wait to get this year rolling!

Day 7 – Thoughts on raising boys

Yes, as you are well aware, I have boys. Four of them. I joke that they’re the reason I dye my hair, but that has more to do with genetics than anything. So here are some of my thoughts on what it’s like to raise boys…and perhaps a tip or two on how to survive:

boys on first day of school

From left to right: George, EJ, Big Bro and Scooter. My crew.

  • I’d tell you to expect the unexpected, but that’s not true. Expect the impossible. Really. Want to hide the last Hershey kiss in the light fixture, in the middle of the kitchen, with no ladder? Go fold clothes. I dare you. You’ll find your son hanging from the light. Seriously.
  • Do not teach them hide and go seek. I mean it. Unless you want to spend frantic minutes looking for them, only to find them in the dryer. Yeah. Not kidding on this one either.
  • Throw out any book that tells you boys and girls aren’t different. I bought dolls for my boys and gave them a kitchen, thinking I wouldn’t introduce any biasness and would let them be “themselves.” The dolls became hostages and lost their heads, the kitchen was turned into a bunker and doll arms became guns. *sigh* I have to admit, I was never a Barbie fan myself.
  • Do not tell your son to “act like a man.” Unless he’s older than 18. I do not want my child to leave his socks on the kitchen floor, expect his dishes to be picked up after him or expect the sock fairy to magically appear each night. (Kidding, just kidding.) Actually, my problem is that our children grow up too fast, and we always expect them to act older, not just act appropriately for the age they are…and there’s a difference. I’m afraid I may have done a little too much of this with my oldest. He has a very old soul, and I worked so hard to raise him to be a good child, I forgot to let him be a child. Lesson learned the hard way.

    Life is never dull around here.

    Life is never dull around here.

So how do you survive it all? I’m not sure I know quite yet, but I do know one thing. Let go. Don’t get so wrapped up in all the different aspects that you forget that you’re living a life. Make some memories. Have a water fight. Give your son a wedgie. Let them know that you’re not just Mom, and that you remember how to have fun.

It can’t be all rules, all the time. Stay up late. Tell scary stories. Play in a fort. Get dirty. When they ask what’s for supper, tell them it’s frog eyeballs and spider legs. Get creative.

Sometimes the rule is that there are no rules. Inside toys played with outside? Sure. But no complaining if something breaks.

Sometimes the rule is that there are no rules. Inside toys played with outside? Sure. But no complaining if something breaks.

The time will fly by, and before you know it, you’ll wonder why you didn’t do all these things sooner.

Four boys. Apparently God has a very good sense of humor. But that’s OK…so do I.

Day 5 – Thoughts on scars

Scars. Most of us have them. Some are worn like banners, proudly showing what we have survived. Others are hidden, harder to see and never talked about. And then there are those that are only felt on the inside. Yes, we all have scars.

I talk about my scars in a pretty matter-of-fact manner. I can’t change the fact that they are there, I have no desire to erase them, they are part of who I am. In fact, I wonder what type of person I would be without them?

I have scars on my hands from a “fight” that I was in in junior high. I have a scar on my finger from stitches that I had to have when chopping corn one fall.

I have three scars on my knee from orthopedic surgery when I was in high school. I have scar in the crook of my elbow from a not-so-wise decision that I made regarding jumping from a stack of bales when I was younger.

I have two scars on my shins from frostbite. Apparently yoga pants and a pair of Uggs are NOT enough protection when going out mid-winter to bring the cows in, especially if you fall through a snow bank and it takes you 15 minutes to get back to the house. Lesson learned.

Dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb. That's my only excuse. The mark has faded, but it still looks like I left a pair of too tight socks on. Nice one, Val. Nice one.

Dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb. That’s my only excuse. The mark has faded, but it still looks like I left a pair of too tight socks on. Nice one, Val. Nice one.

I have three scars from gallbladder surgery. I have a large scar from three C-sections.

No, my days as a model are long over. 😉 But each one of those marks tells a story about my life. My ability to keep on keeping on. Especially the scars that you cannot see.

The whole point of living is not to preserve the body that you were given, it’s to live life to the fullest. Sometimes the world leaves its mark on you, but hopefully you are leaving an even bigger mark on the world.

I’m not sure where my next scar will come from, but I have no doubt that it will happen. In fact, I’d be rather disappointed if it didn’t.

I’m on Day 5 of a 30 Days of Thoughts series…check out the other days here!

Day 4 – Thoughts on homework

I am 36 years old…and I thought my days of having homework were long over. But I was wrong.

It’s funny, seeing things from a student’s perspective once again. I had toyed with the idea several different times, but it’s now reality. I am taking a few college courses to become a certified paralegal. And I think I may have lost my mind.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a dream come true to be working where I’m at…I love every minute, and never find myself hesitating to get ready for work in the morning. (Some say that I just like playing dress up…and I won’t deny it.) After staying home for a long, long time, it’s nice to have more interaction with people older than, oh, let’s say 9. 😉

I don't wear my coveralls as often, but they're never put away too far!

I don’t wear my coveralls as often, but they’re never put away too far!

I've been dusting off my dress clothes, buying a few things (a size or two smaller...YAY!), and breaking out the shoes that you don't dare wear on the farm. Yes, I am blessed!

I’ve been dusting off my dress clothes, buying a few things (a size or two smaller…YAY!), and breaking out the shoes that you don’t dare wear on the farm. Yes, I am blessed!

As a mother of a sixth-grader, fourth-grader, first-grader and pre-schooler, I know all about homework. I know what I’ve told my boys time and time again. Don’t procrastinate, double check your work, read what’s assigned, take notes and review.

Perhaps someone needs to start reminding me about all the good advice I’ve been giving.

For example, this weekend was a bit of a whirlwind. Basketball, 4-H, trying to catch up on housework, harvest, etc. Life was just a bit more full of life. Finally, late Sunday afternoon I started wrapping up my assignments for the week. I had started them while in the hospital with George, but I had three papers due. And I hadn’t started them…yet.

Needless to say, it was a long evening, but I hit “submit” at 11:54 p.m. on my last paper. And although I’m hoping I learned my lesson…I know it will probably happen again.

But I will strive to do better, to set a better example and to pick up better habits of my own. But 36 years of old habits are a little hard to break.

And I’m just not sure this old dog is ready for any other new tricks.

This is Day 4 in a series of “30 Days of Thoughts.” You can get caught up here.