His Dig Dreams Are Big Dreams

Life Lessons from a One-Year-Old, Motherhood

Most little boys go to bed with a teddy bear, a tattered blue blankey, or a lovey they have carried around for months. I have offered all of these options to our little man, but he simply isn’t interested.

I guess you could say that Hank has a “lovey”, but his lovey is no cuddly puppy or bear. Hank’s lovey is a digger. And no, not the nice soft stuffed excavator that goes along with his Good Night, Good Night, Construction Site book. Oh, no. Hank goes to sleep at night with a death-grip on a cold, metal skid-steer he affectionately calls “dig-dig.”


Dig-dig and Tractor

You see, our little boy has a love–an obsession, really–for heavy equipment of all kinds. It runs in the family, and he gets to foster his love often; thanks to the good luck that landed him on a Montana farm. Hank bounced around in a dump truck when he was still bouncing around in my tummy; and his affinity for that big huge truck seemed to be born into him from day one.


Digger and Dump Truck

There are days I’m convinced that Hank has hydraulic fluid running through his veins!

Hank’s grandpa owned and ran a heavy equipment dealership for many years before “retiring” as a farmer, and Hank’s daddy sold/rented heavy equipment as well. Both of them can run anything. (And run it well.)

Hank doesn’t just get his love for running equipment from the men in his family tree, though–he also gets a little of it from his mama.

I was lucky enough to grow up on that same Montana farm, with that equipment-loving father who figured both of his kids might as well learn how to run everything on the farm. My big brother and I ran skid steers as soon as we could reach the pedals, and before we could reach them we rode along with dad, seat-belted onto his lap, like Hank does now.


Moving Dirt with Gramps

I’m willing to bet that one day, my little digger-man will end up in the construction industry running something, and I am already behind him on that 100%. I don’t feel the need to push him to shoot for an Ivy League school, or to encourage him to be a doctor or a lawyer. I see how happy that little boy is when he is digging dirt or hauling gravel, and that’s plenty good enough for me!

It helps that I also see how happy his grandpa is–digging dirt or hauling gravel–and I know that it may simply be in their programming. I will encourage Hank to follow his dreams, whether they include construction or not, but I will thoroughly enjoy the fact that they do, right now.


Motor Grading with Daddy

I will let him bring dig-dig to every meal with him as he insists on doing, currently. I will let him scoop up peaches with the bucket of that darn toy, and even let him use it as a spoon now and again. (What little boy doesn’t want to scoop food into his mouth with a bobcat bucket?)

I will let him sit on my lap as we read Diggers Go three times in a row before every nap-time and bed-time, and I will do my best to make the right sounds. And I will let him wear his equipment PJs more than any of the others, because of course, they’re his favorites.

I will do my best to keep a mental note of where each piece of equipment gets left around the house throughout the day, because Hank can’t quite keep track of them all yet.

I will keep handing him off to dad or grandpa; whoever happens to be running something that day.

And most importantly; I will keep letting him go to bed with dig-dig. Because to some little boys, dreams of diggers are much more magical than dreams about anything else.


Excavator Operator

Traveling Husband Survival: Coffee, Wine, and Satire

Motherhood, We Are In This Together

Well, as the hubs heads off for a few days of work in sunny Austin, I am gearing up to survive my three days of married-single-parenting a cooped-up toddler. (Thank you, freezing Montana winter.)

Good red wine and extra coffee have been purchased. . .and some satire therapy was in order!! 

Here are 5 Ways Traveling Husbands Are The Best Thing Ever When You Have Kids

(In case you were wondering.)

They are. Just ask me. Anyways, go have a quick laugh at my expense, and enjoy the other hilarity on MockMom (the satirical little corner of Sammiches and Psych Meds that I love so much). Now go!


Hurry home, honey!

Gratitude, Always

Motherhood, We Are In This Together

This week, I got humbled.

A few days ago, I ran an errand on my way to the office, so I went a different route than I normally would. Heading up 27th meant I had to cross the railroad tracks, and of course, a long train was rumbling through as I pulled into the long line of waiting cars.

As I sat there waiting, I tapped my steering wheel and looked all around me to gauge whether I should peel off and take another route. It has to be nearing the end, I thought; so I stayed in my northbound lane and grew increasingly more antsy and impatient. Increasingly more negative.

I make my own schedule and work for family, so it’s not like I had a boss waiting to scold me for arriving to work late, but I was still stressed out about running behind schedule.

Finally after what felt like an eternity, the tracks cleared, and after two rounds of stoplights, I got to the other side of the tracks. Held up at yet another red light, I felt like pulling my hair out–that is, until I got humbled.

I noticed a tall, lanky, nice-looking man waiting at the crosswalk, carrying a grocery sack. As he started to walk across the street, right in front of me, it was like he let me look right into his soul. He looked kind but troubled, somehow. His hair was long and looked like it hadn’t been washed in days, and his clothes most likely hadn’t been either. He was dressed nicely though, and I got the feeling that he was a genuinely good person.

As he walked right past my windshield, I saw that his plastic grocery sack held a loaf of bread, and sticking out of his jacket pocket was a half pint of milk.

The milk is what got to me.

The milk is what caused hot tears to immediately fill my eyes as that light turned green.

I pulled away from that stoplight, in my nice warm Tahoe with its heated seats, thinking back to my blessed morning in my warm, cozy house.

As I had raced around the kitchen that morning getting a lunch packed for my toddler, I’d mistakenly poured fresh milk into his sippy cup from the night before that was still in the fridge. As his daddy walked into the kitchen with the correct cup, I poured the “old” cup of milk down the sink, threw the sippy in the dishwasher, and topped off today’s cup from our brand new gallon jug of whole milk.

I wanted my son to have a fresh sippy cup of milk.

I also knew there were two more full gallons in the garage.

In our extra fridge.

Now, I don’t know how far that man had walked that cold morning to get that bread and that milk, but he certainly had to work a whole hell of a lot harder to get to his half pint of milk that day than anyone in my family did.

Our cup–literally–runneth over. My blessings and my privilege smacked me right in the face, as I sat there watching that man walking back to who-knows-where with his bread and his milk.

And then it clicked.

I was supposed to go that way to work, and get stuck behind that train, so that I could see that humble man and his half pint of milk. So that I could see that what mattered was not being perfectly on time for my perfectly planned day.

What mattered was that I had a job to go to, in my nice warm car, and a nice warm house to go home to afterwards. What mattered was the privilege of having my healthy family’s company to enjoy when I got home.

What mattered was that I had the luxury of a hot shower this morning.

What mattered was that we almost always have a two gallon box of milk in our garage fridge, because we can.

All of these blessings made me cry big tears, of overwhelming gratitude. I couldn’t stop thinking of my Hank, his amazing daddy, and his sweet big brothers. My biggest blessings.

I cried because I had wasted perfectly good milk, that a hungry man would have walked across blocks of traffic for, and I didn’t even give it a second thought.

Well, I did give it a second thought, all the rest of the way to work. And as soon as my hubby got home, I gave it a third thought when I told him how a half pint of milk in a man’s pocket on a cold morning had humbled me.

We gave it another thought when he and I decided that evening to donate $100 to our local “Flakesgiving” fund, so four families could have Turkey dinners on Thanksgiving, who might not have been able to otherwise.

I gave it another thought waiting in the drive-thru Starbucks line the next day, while running errands with my mom. As we sat there being humbled, yet again by that man and his milk, we decided to buy the coffees for the carload behind us. I hope they did the same for the car behind them.

And still, I haven’t stopped thinking about that man and his milk.

I haven’t wasted a sippy cup of milk, since; either.

I am grateful for that man and my lesson. And I am also grateful for the mantra I have been saying over and over in my head ever since that humbling; a few lines borrowed from one of my favorite authors, Elizabeth Gilbert:

“Gratitude, always.

Always, gratitude.”

Happy Thanksgiving, my dear friends, family, and readers far and wide. Maybe my lesson can be a lesson to you, too.  

For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.

~Luke 14:11


Jeannette Rankin’s Legacy Lives On In Montana, and Beyond

Uncategorized, We Are In This Together

Regardless of the outcome of the election–2016 has already been a paramount year for women in politics. For the first time in history, a woman earned the honor of being one of the nominees in our presidential election.

It’s about time.

It seems almost too perfect that it has been exactly 100 years since our first great stride for women in politics.

In 1916–exactly 100 years ago–Jeannette Rankin became the first woman to be elected to a federal office when she was voted into the United States House of Representatives by the state of Montana. I am incredibly proud to call that great state home.

Equally noteworthy is the fact that when Jeannette Rankin was voted into Congress, women in our country hadn’t yet earned full voting rights. It wasn’t until four years later, with the ratification of the 19th Amendment in 1920, that women were actually allowed to vote in both state and federal elections. She fought hard for that right as one of the first suffragists in Congress, and women voters have been thanking her and her fellow suffragettes ever since.

Jeannette Rankin is a Montana legend. A role model to all women, both in our state and across the nation; she paved the way for women in politics. Ms. Rankin’s Montana memorial site is featured in an almost-haunting photograph taken and recently shared on Instagram by Kurt Wilson, a photojournalist for the Missoulian. The picture showcases how her headstone (located in the Missoula City Cemetery) got some special visitors on this unprecedented Election Day.  Of course; I can only speculate as to who put their “I Voted” stickers on her headstone, or brought her the lovely fresh flowers, but I do have a hunch.

I choose to believe they were women; women coming directly from their local polling places, proudly celebrating the fact that they had just cast their vote for the first woman to ever have a shot at being President of the United States of America.

Today, I wish more than anything, that Missoula wasn’t a six hour drive away, as I would love nothing more than to add my own tribute to that revolutionary lady. I would love to take my own mason jar of white roses to leave at that significant headstone, to thank her for her hard work. 

A woman didn’t win this election, but a woman ran

Jeannette Rankin, on behalf of women voters everywhere, we thank you for being brave. Thank you for your determination, and thanks for proving to our country that women can be leaders, too. May we carry your torch, and do you proud.

And I sure hope you are looking down on us, so you can see those beautiful stickers on your headstone.

(Photo Credit:  Kurt Wilson on Instagram)

“First Calf Heifer: A Farm Girl’s Take on Childbirth” on Her View From Home


I am excited to have a new piece up today over at Her View From Home!

Have a few laughs at this skinny farmgirl’s expense!


First-Calf Heifer: A Farm Girl’s Take on Childbirth


Umm–no thanks, I think I’ll take the c-section

Puzzle Pieces

Life Lessons from a One-Year-Old, Motherhood, Step by Step, We Are In This Together


My little boy, Hank, has three heroes: his three big brothers. When they are with us, they throw balls with him and dive onto pillow piles and build endless towers to knock down. They make him laugh like neither their daddy or I ever can. He idolizes them; he wants to be just like them.

There is an electric charge in the air on the days when daddy arrives with Hank’s three big brothers in tow. He can sense when they are coming, and he can hardly contain his excitement. The door barely clicks open and he is running to the top of the stairs, squealing; racing to get to them. 

His puzzle is complete on the days we have the boys; all the pieces of our family are in place and his world looks as it should.

But three days later the puzzle falls apart; three major pieces of it suddenly go missing, and he has to try to make sense of it in a one-and-a-half year-old brain which knows nothing of parenting plans or shared custody. Nothing of divorce, or of real mamas and step-mamas. I am sure he thinks I am his brothers’ mama too—why wouldn’t I be?

“We”—our six-pack—is all he has ever known. I do not look forward to the day I have to explain things like divorce to my precious boy. Explain why his brothers have another mama; how it’s not me. Why they have another home, too, on the other side of town, or why he will go to a different school than they do.

I don’t know how to explain why some mamas and daddies don’t speak to each other, even though they share the same children.

And most of all, I worry about explaining why his big brothers have to leave us for half of every week. Because before he can truly understand, he won’t understand, and I know there will be tears.

I don’t want him to be heartbroken half of every week, his best friends in the world lost to him again. I know it is coming. I can already see the gears turning in that precious little head, wondering; the start of the dissonance.

Lately on the days without his brothers around, his little lip trembles when he sees their pictures. He runs into their rooms, just to check.

We will see them soon, sweetheart, I tell him, soon.

Hank’s big brothers have huge hearts buried under their tough exteriors. They play and wrestle and high-five and cuddle and pick up and carry and comfort their little brother. I know they miss him, too, when they are away.

They don’t treat him any differently because I am not their mama, too. They love him just like they love each other, even though they don’t say it.

Hank has no place in one of their two worlds, but they live for him in our world. They amaze me every day with their maturity and compassion. Their resilience as they bounce between lives; their acceptance of their new family.

When daddy loads them up to take them back to their mama’s house, Hank stands in the doorway waving his special wave. He opens and closes his little fist to each of them, saying I Love You, even though the words don’t come out yet.

His big brothers answer him with the same wave, their code, their secret send-off. The words don’t come out of their mouths, either.

But they don’t have to. He knows.


Originally posted on Tribe Magazine at: http://thetribemagazine.com/puzzle-pieces/#ixzz4OodjbHiL

Best Buds


Two Thumbs Up Tuesday by Not The Average Mama

Step by Step

Thanks so much Jessica – at Not The Average Mama – for including my post in your roundup today! We stepmamas all sure do understand each other, and it is such a big help to have an online tribe. I’m excited to be included with your other great blog finds today!


Go check it out!

Two Thumbs Up Tuesday: 10/18 – http://wp.me/p77iPr-1DA