The Announcements of All Announcements

For weeks now I have been thinking about writing this big post. Something fun, energetic and exciting about the news of our big announcement.

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Thank you Wren Bird Photography for this beautiful picture!

But I haven’t. And you might be wondering why.

So here it is. The announcement of all announcements.

This sucks.

NOTE: Before you go getting all preachy and telling me how blessed we are that we are having a baby and how many couples wish for the same thing, hear me out. The reason I am writing this post is because if I am feeling this way, I’m probably not the only mom in the history of moms to feel this way.

You see, I feel lost. I feel ashamed of how “blah” I am at this point. I feel like I should be the giggling ball of joy that is just bursting with excitement about this, but I’m not. And until recently, I didn’t even know why.

That is, until I read this blog post. And as a mom-to-be I’m so glad I did.

You see, life before pregnancy was figured out, organized and dare I say, FUN. I would wake up, have my to-do list, herd people to listen to me and follow my orders as needed, accomplish things on this list and BAM! — success.

Side note: I love lists. I love lists. Let me say this one more time, I LOVE LISTS! I love making them, crossing things out on them, putting new things on them, writing lists of things that I have accomplished on lists and then, my favorite thing is to write lists of things that I never think I will get to BUT THEN I DO!

But recently, things have been different. I have been sick — real sick. Like motion sickness mixed with about every other sick feeling you have ever felt, every day for 3 months. I’ve tried medicine after medicine prescribed, with little to no relief.

How that plays out in real life is scary. I will spare you the details, but let’s just say I have spent more time kneeling to the ceramic gods than I ever have before — even in my partying days.

I’ve missed important meetings. I’ve had to make cancellations at work. I’ve turned down things that I would have DIED to go to.

And you know what that means: my to-do list isn’t getting done as fast. Some days (like weekends) it doesn’t get done at all.

I just sit and plan my next meal. Carefully. With as many nutrients as possible on a tummy that can handle little to nothing. I think you could say I’ve been feeling very defeated.

But today I think my perspective might have changed a bit after reading this post that was shared by a fellow farm mom, written by a very wise lady.

The post actually talks about life after giving birth but I think that this holds true for what I’m doing now too: the whole creating life thing. The whole #humanfarming thing.

While I personally believe there are few tasks more important than raising tiny humans [shout out to Brooke!], I don’t think it’s a responsibility that should be taken lightly. It’s a big undertaking and a huge commitment, both during pregnancy and in the chapter of life that starts after. It’s not for everyone. If you decide to spend your life making other positive impacts on the world, awesome — no shame in your game. But, me? I’m not one of those happy glowing pregnant women. I’m excited to meet my son or daughter, but ready for this part to wrap up.

Now I don’t want to spoil this for you, but if you are a new mom (pre- or post-natal} that:

1. likes to-do lists as much as I do

2. grew up in a society that measures success by your how much you get finished on your to-do list

3. works in a job that they love and tries their heart out to squeeze every bit of time out of my day to serve the people that I work for, I encourage you to read the post linked above.

The Oleens: One Year Later

To say the last year has been a crazy ride would be putting it mildly. During our first year of marriage, much, much more than just my last name has changed.

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The happy couple September 16, 2011.

Let’s just be real here for a second.

This marriage thing ain’t for sissy’s.

We’ve already made it through family losses, more thoughtless disagreements than I thought humanly possible between two people and the loss of my girl.

On the flip side, we’ve made memories that make me giggle and shake my head. Here’s a quick run down of our first year of marriage. Hang on, it’s a heck of a ride.

We adopted.

Yep. You heard right-might not be what you’re thinking though. We adopted in the four legged variety. Blogosphere, meet Stella. We adopted this wiggly and licking package of love from mabbr.org. I can’t tell you how happy she makes us! And I really mean us. Some of our biggest controversy within the Oleen household is which side of the bed Stella will sleep on, Brandon’s side or mine.

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I’m a cattle watering machine.

As you all know, I’m not exactly the cowboy that Brandon wants me to be- but I’m getting closer! This year the drought and the Kansas heat created a lot of thirsty cows and horses. It didn’t take too long and Brandon had me hooking up the skid loader and water like an Oleen watering machine. #YesIJustSaidThat.

We had a baby!
Again, not exactly what the average person would think, but it is a baby! Brandon bred his favorite mare in 2011. She had the cutest little filly! Meet Jackies Playin With a Gun- Jackie for short!

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Weddings, weddings and more weddings!

There have been so many of our friends {even my Dad} tie the knot! It’s made for great travel and lots of nights on the town. Thank you all for making us a part of your journey together!

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Things change.

We’ve had great friends move away and other friends move closer. We miss you Garrett, Tara, Finnel, Lenhart, Nick and many others!  Aaanndddd without further ado, welcome to the mid west Kelly, Fwed and Rrrrory Rrrooo Rrrivard!

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Whew! Just writing all that made me a little tired and I didn’t even include trips home to see family, road trips for work and all the horses that made their way to our place for a few more miles.

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It’s been a year of learning to say the least. Learning to let go, learning to live together, learning to live as a team and most important learning to respect and love each other no matter what. Here’s to year number two!

Let Me Buy You A Beer

To say social media has changed my life would be an understatement.

It wasn’t the tools, the toys or the techie gadgets either.

It was you. The people, the relationships, the phone conversations and the visits IRL that really changed it.

Thank you.

In the near future I’ll be applying to a conference where I hope to meet some new folks who share my passion for social media, people, farming and food.

It’s a conference you might be interested in too, so I thought I’d share.

AgChat Foundation is hosting the third-annual Agvocacy 2.0 training in late August of this year. I went last year and I had a blast.

It’s one of those “perfect sized” conferences. You know what I’m talking about. It’s big enough to have great speakers and fun people, yet just small enough to really learn hands on information you can put to use that day.

Yes. I’m a fan.

To join the conference apply here. Send me a message on Facebook if your application is accepted. I’m always up for meeting new people and I’ll even buy you a beer if you make the contact.

How’s that for a little encouragement?

I’m Just Not Good at Saying Goodbye

Update: Lexus went to where all good dogs go Thursday, April 26, 2012. I hope she knows how much I love her. I hope I see her again.

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This post is really going to be a downer. Forgive me now. I need to write this.

I need to ask this question.

I need your input.

You see, I am in the process of loosing a precious friend. One that I have had in my life for more than 16 years.

She is the apitomy of kindness, patience, loyalty and love. She is my pup, Lexus.

Meet Lexus.

Well, she’s not really a pup now. And that’s the problem.

About a year and a half ago Lex started having seizures. I had planned to put her down but some how, she made a huge tournaround and we have been able to keep her with us for a little longer.

Until lately.

Lately the walks have been shorter, the standing wobblier, the tailwagging less frequent and she’s started eating less- lots less.

It’s starting to be that time. I can feel it.

So this is where I need your help.

About a month ago I was talking to one of my best friends on the phone and we were talking about Lexus. I mentioned I look forward seeing her in Heaven.

There was an akward pause.

And then, with the utmost kindness she talked with me about what she thought Heaven would be like.

She didn’t think there would be dogs in Heaven. Or horses. Or cows.

Really?

I just couldn’t believe it. What?! I mean, what kind of Heaven wouldn’t have dogs, horses or cows? That’s about ALL my version of Heaven would include.

And you think I’m being facetious.

So to back track a bit, I should tell you about my friend on the phone. She is not just any friend. I love her. She is a best friend- so don’t be trashing her in the comments! ;)

That said, she does know a lot about the Bible and spends much more time studying God’s word than I do. Lots more.

So what do I need your help with?

In the next week I think we’ll be letting Lexus move on to what I picture to be a big back yard in the sky. I’m crying my eyes out typing that. I’m just not good at saying goodbye, but I think it’s time.

Do you think I will be able to see my Lexus again?

Our CHI-cago Friend Visits Kansas

I love entertaining friends and family.

I’m not sure if it’s my nature, or if it’s the never-ending longing for my close friends and family in Florida to visit the gorgeous Kansas Flint Hills.

I just love it.

Kansas Flint Hills at their finest.

So when Kelly messaged me and told me she was up for a trip to Manhattan, I jumped on the opportunity.

You see, Kelly is not only a really cool gal, she is also a friend I met via social media. We had spent very little time hanging out outside the confines of business meetings until a couple weeks ago. I really wanted to get to know her better and get in a little #agnerd talk.

For those of you not familiar with #agnerd talk, don’t sweat it. It just means we talk about things like Facebook statistics, search engine optimization, YouTube videos, etc. 

Her visit was so much fun. I had a blast.

In true Oleen style, we put Kelly to work upon her arrival. She was up to the task and she couldn’t have been more of a trooper.

She helped catch a calf, rode around in the truck during chores, helped with feed chores, watched as Brandon and I argued about opening and closing gates….um. Oops, I got carried away.

But she sure did hang in there like a champ!

We also squeezed in a little fun at The Little Apple Brewery with Brandi and Sheridan.

Image borrowed from kellyrivard.com.

Side note: Why don’t I spend more time with these super-fabulous gals?

Anyway, I think the trip was a success from our end. Brandon and I couldn’t have had more fun and we can’t wait for Kelly’s next trip to see us.

On that note, the next time you are in the Flint Hills and want to bottle feed a calf, spend a good 4 hours in winds up to 30 mph, listen as newlyweds have minor disagreements about things that don’t matter, or talk about Facebook statistics- send me a note on Facebook. We’re always up for a visitor :)

My Marlboro Man

Note: I wrote this during my flight home earlier today. For the record, Brandon had most of Nacho’s accident cleaned up by the time I arrived to the house this evening.

I had to stop what I’m doing. I just had to. I have to tell you something.

I’m reading The Pioneer Woman’s book Black Heals to Tractor Wheels.

It’s amazing.

As weird as it might sound, I’ve laughed {out loud} on the plane home from Vegas about 20 times. I’m only on page 70.

Warning: If you have not read the book, do not read this blog post. Quickly go back to Facebook, Pinterest or tune into your favorite TV show. I’m telling you now. I don’t want to ruin the best book ever for you.

So what did I have to tell you?

A story.

A piece of Brandon’s story.

I couldn’t help but think of Brandon while reading Ree’s book. As I read about the comfort she felt in Marboro Man’s company, I began to wonder.

Could it really be? I wonder if it is?

Yep.

It must be a cowboy thing.

Not just any cowboy thing. I’m not talking bronco busting, bull riding, and extreme sports type of cowboy. And I’m definitely not talking about beer drinking, bar going people who wear their jeans too tight and belt buckles too big.

I’m talking generations deep of everyday care and stewardship, patience, calmness, confidence and persistence all wrapped up in one man- a cowboy.

Pioneer Woman and Marlboro Man...yeah well...I got one of those too.

Believe it or not, they still make those kinds of guys.

I mean, it makes since. Day in and day out these men work to care for things. Yes, I just said things. Stick with me here.

Here’s what I got on Brandon:

  • He’s rarely worked a day under 11 hours since I have met him.
  • He’s the first to worry when cattle are sick and the first to make an extra trip to check sick pens.
  • He’s up at 3 a.m. so young cattle don’t have to go through the chute during the heat of the day in the summer and he’s the one checking water tanks and scooping snow in the dead of winter.
  • He burns pastures until 3 or 4 in the morning to renew pasture growth, care for the grasslands and continue the legacy his ancestors began 4 generations ago, so he can feed cattle on schedule during the day.
  • He’ll be the first to take an extra minute or two to stop and watch new heifers or calves in the pen, just to make sure they’re looking okay.
  • He’s always the first to point out, and check on, a newborn baby calf in the pasture.
  • It doesn’t matter to him if it’s 2 minutes or 2 hours, if that horse, cow, heifer, bull {or I} need a few more minutes to calm down, he’ll find the time.
  • He’s never is in a hurry, and always has a few thousand things going on.

All I can come up with is it must be bred in them, those cowboys I speak of.

Have you ever heard of the cowboy gene? Maybe we need to invest in some good old fashioned research to identify what could be a cowboy genetic marker?

We need to let others know, these men really do exist.

A man strong enough to wrestle the elements, tractors, and bales of hay- not to mention wildly temperamental, brunette women miles away from family and close friends. Yet gentle enough to deal with a newly born calf needing a warm bed of straw.

On that note, Brandon fed the dogs bacon for dinner last night. He just loves spoiling our little pups when I’m gone. Nacho, our red heeler, messed on the carpet sometime last night. He probably got an upset stomach from the bacon. When I get home from Vegas there’ll be a discolored spot on the carpet and I’ll need to get the stain out. Isn’t that a good jolt back to reality?

Household Truce and Happy Heifers

Why, hello again friends. I hope my long absence hasn’t upset you. As always, I appreciate the encouragement to blog from my good friends — especially you, Chris. I truly needed it.

So what type of monkey-business have I been up to you ask?

Well, the norm.

Brandon and I have come to a household truce. I have continued the use of strategic note placement to encourage good housekeeping. Brandon has continued to make fun of me.

Certain things have come along in the last month that I have found to be very amusing. Like everything else, you can find most of them on Pinterest.

In an effort simplify your life; I decided to make a list here.

Chickasaw Country- A sassy new travel site designed by my friend, Brooke. Don’t forget to check out her super cool blog too.

Dirt Road Daughters Magazine- A new fashion and lifestyle publication for today’s daring generation of country girls. It’s got some great cowgirl attire and sassy home decorating tips.

The Food Effect-  An interactive site designed by my friends at the North Carolina Pork Producers Council to encourage people to give their voice, money or time to help feed a kid in need. Isn’t that cool?

Whew, that got a little deep. Back to the fun stuff.

A new addition to our little family are a few heifers we’re keeping north of town. I continue to learn more about these 4 legged bovine creatures. They make me giggle. Caring for them also makes me do two times the laundry every week because I’m covered with dirt and dust after chores. Not fun, but we must take the good with the bad.

Below is a video from the pens earlier this week.

So what do you think about my amateur video work? How about that cute little cowboy? And who thinks we should enter that one heifer into the Kentucky Derby?