New Year, Old Me? 

Happy New Years to you all! I’m hoping everyone enjoyed their Christmas and holidays and are ready to tackle the new year! 

A quick Christmas re-cap, we had a very chill and quiet Christmas, which is something we are definitely not used to but totally enjoyed. Casey was sooo into it this year, despite sleeping in until almost 9. So typical! We had a blast watching him open his presents and looking for Santa. Christmas with kids is by far the best, it definitely brings back the sense of excitement with them. Getting to stay home and be in one place all day was absolutely amazing and you can bet your ass I had those mimosas with breakfast. My Christmas spirit doesn’t take much to activate. 

The sweetest boy on Christmas

The weather was as nice as the Christmas sweaters


Anyways, now that the holiday rush is over and we are all back to reality, I’m sure a lot of you are either excited or neutral about the upcoming year. It’s funny how there are so many mixed reactions to a new year, there’s the ones who make a million resolutions (and maybe keep 2), those who see it as just another day and year, and there’s usually the odd few who make a couple goals and actually stick to them. Which one are you? 

As I start the next 365 days, I must say, I feel pretty good about what’s to come. I definitely have a clean slate to work with this year and I plan on filling it with a few great assets. I’m not one to embrace the “New Year, New Me” mantra, because frankly I don’t think it’s necessary. For me, I started this year off feeling like my old self. I used to be confident, happy and secure with my decisions and life, and it’s probably been a solid 3 years since I felt that way. Crazy right? That bubbly, energetic woman is starting to show herself again and that makes me excited in itself. ​As seen below, I was ecstatic to start 2017 in a great outfit and even better mood. 

In 2016 I merely reacted to the circumstances and was basically in survival mode all year. This year, I already feel much stronger (both mentally and physically) and am opting to be proactive and create the circumstances I want. No more sitting around and feeling lost, it’s time to get up and make the things I want happen. Seems easy enough, ha! 

For those of you who do make resolutions or use a simple phrase for the year, I have some suggestions: 

  • Don’t chase people or things
  • If it’s meant to happen, it will 
  • Don’t let anyone be mean to you
  • Be honest with yourself and to others 
  • Eat a vegetable at least twice a day 
  • Plan a holiday or trip! It doesn’t have to be far, just give yourself something to look forward to
  • Happiness. Use that word in every aspect of your life. Do things that make you happy. Be with someone who makes you happy. Say yes to opportunities that will make you happy etc…
  • Be gentle on yourself. Don’t feel guilty over your choices and practice positive self talk. You’re all you have at the end of the day 

I’m sure there’s a lot more we could add to this list, but just remember to keep it simple and enjoy your year no matter what. This could be the year of great change for some people, while for others it’s a continuation from the year before. Either way, enjoy your time and work towards your goals, I know I will be 😉 

Sunday Fun Day

Ah Sunday, the relaxing, stay in your pj’s all day kind of day. We woke up this morning to full blown winter weather–a howling wind and tons of snow flying. It was the kind of morning where you wanted to bundle up just by looking outside.

Staying true to the winter season, we’ve all been fighting colds on and off for the last month and poor Casey seems to have his cough and endless runny nose back. This means I constantly have a streak of snot on my pants or sleeve and all my pockets are full of Kleenex. Hooray for Mom Life!

Being the festive person I am, I got over zealous and figured that after Casey woke up from his nap we would make his very own handprint ornaments for our tree. I of course was inspired by Pinterest and all the cute salt dough ideas, so I was definitely eager to see what we could come up with!

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It started off well enough, Case was a little unsure about kneading the dough and the overall texture, but it was something fun to do together so I figured we were winning in that department! Fast forward to not even 5 minutes and he completely abandoned the dough and was crawling on the table singing Jingle Bells. Toddlers, right?

We got the dough rolled out and cut into circles and all that was needed was his perfect, little handprint. Turns out he didn’t want any part of it so we abandoned the whole project for another day. To be fair, his cold was bringing his mood down and even though I felt a tad defeated in my Christmas spirit, I’m thinking we’ll have much more fun once his immune system is up! An early bath, and a warm (Baileys) infused drink for this momma made both our afternoons just a bit better.

For anyone needing a quick salt dough recipe, I used 1 cup of flour, 1 cup of salt, and about 1 cup of water (with your choice of food colouring). The opportunities are endless and with a little paint and mod podge after it’s done baking you’ll be set! Here’s hoping tomorrow’s activities go a little bit better and that we’ll have some cute decorations to show off 🙂

 

‘Tis The Season

26 days until Christmas and only 32 days until New Years Eve. What. The. What. Seriously though, where has this year gone? I can’t believe we only have one more month left of 2016, it’s a bit insane.

Now, if you’re anything like me, and you probably aren’t (for good reason) you probably have all your Christmas shopping done and have it neatly wrapped in your room. No? Not yet? Well in that case, I must confess that I am a tad OCD when it comes to Christmas. It’s my favourite holiday and trust me when I say I plan for it all year long. I think I was a bit later this year and started my gift idea list in September and didn’t actually order any gifts until almost October. Gasp. I am also a self confessed online shopper so my Christmas shopping consists of a lot of Etsy scrolling (because small businesses rock) and many trips to the post office. Just how I like it. All you anti-social people will get me when I say I loathe going into stores or malls during the holiday season, because there’s JUST SO MANY PEOPLE. It’s overwhelming. But! Thanks to modern technology, us hermits can totally skip that headache inducing process and enjoy buying our loved ones treasures from the comforts of our own room. Oh, what a time to be alive.

Alright, so enough about my Christmas habits, what I want to get across today is that for one, I’m a terrible blogger when it comes to consistency and I’m not even going to hide it or deny it. It’s been two months since I last wrote something, and honestly, there’s no shame here. I’ll get better at some point (I hope). Secondly, I want to talk about getting through a rough time and keeping your head above water, especially with the Christmas season upon us, it is very easy to get overwhelmed and feeling down, despite everyone claiming it to be the “most wonderful time of the year”.

Now, not to sound like a broken record, but 2016 was tough on me. I started the year out by taking up space back in my old bedroom at my parents house and re-thinking my path in life. Not exactly how you want to live your life at 25, with a small child, but sometimes things need to be done and change is inevitable. For anyone who has or is going through a separation or divorce, you’ll understand when I say “it is never easy”. There are a lot of emotions you have to work through and a lot of dreams and ideals you must put to rest. On top of this, there were a lot of things that were thrown at me throughout the year and it was all I could do to stay afloat. Thankfully, I’m not someone who gives up easily and I was able to persevere and get my feet back under me. I know there are many other things that people can go through, such as changing careers, moving to a new place, losing a loved one, or dealing with any personal tragedy and I just want to give some hope to those who are going through a difficult time, whatever it may be.

We are at the time of year when people are supposed to come together and be happy and grateful and drink eggnog together, but sometimes it’s not that easy. I recently had someone tell me “I’m so strong” and yes, I can slightly agree that right now I am, but it wasn’t always that way. Going through a major life change can take a lot out of a person and it takes a lot of positive self talk and late night conversations with friends and family to help you cope. I am at the point where I accept the way things are and no longer stress or worry about the things I can’t change. Many people expect you to be angry, upset and bitter when you go through something like this, and honestly, that’s exhausting. It doesn’t get you anywhere and it doesn’t change the outcome. People move on. People can change. In the end, there’s nothing you can do about it so you might as well enjoy what you do have and the people who are still there for you. Life’s short, and who wants to waste it being angry and pessimistic? Not this gal.

Ultimately, what I’m trying to get across is that there is always so much to be grateful for. On days you’re feeling down or just not yourself, I urge you to either take 5 minutes and think about all the great things you do have in your life, or if you are like me, write them down. Make a list. Then read it over a couple times. I promise you that once you see what you do have in your wonderful little life, you won’t be worrying about what you don’t have. Above all else, time really does heal everything. Be easy on yourself and be patient. I encourage you to enjoy your holidays, wherever they may be and whoever they may be with and remember that if all else fails, smile and pour yourself a glass of wine.

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It’s important to stay fit during the holidays too 🙂 

With that, I hope you all have a great December and I hope I am back on here before the New Year, but no promises 😉

 

Give Thanks

First and foremost, Happy Thanksgiving to my Canadian readers! I hope you all had a great weekend filled with way too much turkey and many laughs with your family and friends.

So, I’m back. To be quite honest, the reason I haven’t written anything in the last two months is simply this: I didn’t feel like writing.

It’s been a crazy couple months, with a lot of highs and lows, and I didn’t exactly have the time or energy to sit down and write anything worth reading. But alas, that’s over and done with and I feel quite optimistic in keeping up with this finally! Although, I am seeing a pattern where I only write when I feel like I’m finally content with life, so let’s hope it can stay that way! I have some Elle King and Lady Gaga playing in the background, with some cedarwood and patchouli in the diffuser, so the mood is set and I am ready to let my thoughts flow 🙂

Ah Thanksgiving. The time when we eat ourselves into food comas and (sometimes) indulge in a few too many drinks during and after supper. It’s a time where family all gets together and despite our best efforts we all fall asleep on the couch by 10pm. I must say it’s a great prelude to Christmas, and now that the weekend is wrapping up I feel like fast forwarding to December and gearing up for my favourite holiday.

Our Thanksgiving was a good one, despite both Casey and I fighting off colds we caught during our first whirlwind week of full time work and daycare. We were lucky to get a four day weekend to get our immune systems back up and running! Saturday was supper with my family, and it was definitely one of the quieter times we’ve had, since a lot of our favourite people had prior commitments. But, it was still nice to get together and visit, and Casey had a lot of fun showing off his stellar dance moves and all the new words he can say. This year was a far cry from the years before when we would all sit around with way too many rums or whiskeys and laugh until we cried until midnight, but hey, there’s always next year 😉

Since Casey is spending time with his Dad, I have the day to collect my thoughts and get caught up for the week ahead. I used to dread having this much time to think and be alone, but I am finally using it to my benefit and it allowed me to think about what I am grateful for this year. To say this year has been a difficult one is an understatement, but I’m not one to dwell on the negatives, so looking back at the last 9 months I have come to realize that I actually do have a lot to be thankful for.

Family. Without them, I honestly don’t know how I would have survived this far. They have sacrificed so much of their time to help me get where I am and keep my sanity, all the while they’ve done nothing but be patient and uplifting whenever possible. I feel very lucky to have the people I do in my family, and knowing that they are in my corner no matter what makes all the difference.

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Casey and Cousin Jord

 

Friends. Everybody needs a great group of friends in their life, whether it’s 5 or 20, you can’t go wrong when you know you have people who are willing to back you up and support any decision you make. My friends have gone above and beyond for me this year and I feel like I’ll owe them the rest of my life for the kindness they have shown me. Whether it’s a simple text, a much needed hug, or a hilarious FaceTime, they have all made me smile when I felt most like crying. Friendship is a lucky thing to have and I am proud to say I have the best friends anyone could ask for.

Casey. My sweet little man is my rock and reason for striving to be better everyday. He has proven to me that you shouldn’t take life too seriously and that laughter is the best cure for anything. Because of him I have a new found motivation to live better and be better, and I’m working my butt off to provide him with the life he deserves. The love I have for this kid is unexplainable, and I am so grateful to call him my son. They say motherhood changes you and I can definitely say for me, it has been for the better.

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With that, I hope you all take a moment to count your blessings and tell the ones you love how much they mean to you and how thankful you are to have them in your life. It never hurts to share a few uplifting words and in the end you’ll feel happy for making someone else happy.

Flying Solo

Let’s talk about comfort zones tonight. You hear all the time how your biggest accomplishments and dreams are outside of your place of familiarity and how you need to push yourself beyond any fears or doubts in order to achieve what you truly want. Aside from sounding like something straight off of the quotes section on Pinterest, I honestly couldn’t agree more. There are so many ways that we can get comfortable and “stable” with what we have and what we do. For some, this is totally fine, and they are completely content with how their lives are. For others, on the more extreme end of the scale, busting out of their comfort zones happens on a daily basis. A lot of times people get stuck and they start to get either run down or questioning their choices in life. They start to feel too routine and the thought of any changes brings about fear and uncertainty. Unfortunately this is all too common and no matter what, everyone feels this at one point or another in their lives. It comes with so many different territories, it can happen to students graduating, someone taking on a new job, anyone who has ever moved, becoming a parent, or even trying something different as a hobby. Being fearful is never fun, but being scared to try new things is a much harsher fate. It’s something that can hinder you in so many ways and I feel like in order to grow and learn more about yourself you have to at least take a walk outside of that comfort zone you hold onto so dearly.

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Now to explain why I chose this topic. Recently, I stepped majorly outside of my own comfort zone and this may not seem like a big deal to most, but for me it was. I took a weekend completely to myself, did some travelling all alone while my parents took Casey camping. Now it was a big step for me on two levels: one being that I was going to be so far away from my boy (because Mom guilt is a real thing) and two being that I was going on this adventure completely alone, something I have never done before. Cue Captain Obvious here, I was apprehensive because I WAS DOING SOMETHING NEW. Why are we like this?! I mean, I wasn’t totally fearful, it was actually all pretty exciting/nerve wracking, but it’s so funny how our first instinct is to be scared of the unknown. This year has brought a lot of experiences for me where I have had to deal with a lot of new things as well as my old friend, the great unknown. So I felt like I could tackle leaving my space of comfort fairly well. I mean, I’m 25, I’m an adult, I’ve travelled before, so how bad could it be?

Turns out it wasn’t bad at all. Turns out it was one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself. All you moms out there will agree with me when I say that we get very little time to ourselves, no matter how old our children are. It starts to become a thing of the past and at the end of the day you dream of having a moment to yourself, only to be reminded that you have a million things to get done before your ray of sunshine wakes up. So this was kind of my reasoning behind taking a weekend to myself and doing things solely for me. Call me selfish, but you gotta keep your sanity somehow. I enjoyed wine, a hot bath, a good book (Daring Greatly by Brene Brown — get it!), as much Starbucks as I could handle, a very relaxing massage and lots of leisurely walking and browsing, because that doesn’t happen with a kid anymore. I did a bit of shopping for myself (gasp!), took in an outdoor Farmer’s Market and listened to live bands throughout a park. It was pretty wonderful to say the least. After getting home and realizing how good of a weekend it was, I couldn’t have been happier with myself for taking the step and doing something different. It was crazy how many people I had talked to who said they had never done anything like that before. Being alone seems so taboo to so many, but I think it is so crucial to how we evolve and get to know ourselves better. This year has definitely opened my eyes as to how a comfort zone can actually stop your personal growth and clarity, so it has become one of my main focuses as to how I can better myself by overstepping that line of comfort and seeing what’s on the other side.

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Starbucks is a Mom’s best friend

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Spa time!

And another shot of me sitting, because picture taking isn’t as easy when you’re alone 

Of course, being a Mom has my mind racing at all hours of the day and this totally correlates back to how I want to parent and raise Casey. I want him to see that you can do things alone and still enjoy yourself, and at some point you need to attempt something that scares you a bit, because more times than not the outcome will be greater than you ever imagined. It saddens me to see people settle and create bubbles around themselves, people who never imagine leaving their comfortable, little world. People can put so many limitations on themselves and I would hate to see my son grow up that way. Change can be a welcomed blessing and I think a lot of us need to realize that sometimes. Comfort zones bring steady, familiar experiences, ones that we know far too well and are never very exciting. I have decided that just isn’t for me and I wish to live a life with a little more spark and creativity than what is so commonly followed. So for now, I will try to take more chances, dive into various experiences and live just a little more boldly than normal. Here’s hoping you do the same!

Stop and Smell the Roses

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We’ve all heard the saying, but do we actually stop and enjoy what’s in front of us? For me, the answer is yes…sometimes. This is my first year attempting to grow roses and so far I’m hopefully optimistic. I planted 4 bushes — 2 white, one red and one pink. For you garden geeks like me, you’d understand the excitement one gets when you walk out and finally see some beautiful blooms! I may have done a happy dance when I saw these beauties, and there was no way I was going to pass up an opportunity to take in their wonderful smell. There’s just something about roses, they give off such a classical vibe and are the grandmother of flowers. You simply can’t beat them. I’m hoping my hard work pays off and that they become a fixture for many years to come…plus when I feel like I deserve a dozen roses I can damn well get them for myself 😉

Sooooo, with that said, these last couple weeks have been busy ones (summer, amiright?). My highlight was driving 6 hours south to the wonderful town of Calmar, AB and being a part of a long time friend’s wedding. Now, this was my first time being a bridesmaid and I’m not going to lie, I might have had a few nerves about the whole ordeal. Luckily for me, my good pal Jessica was hands down the best and most organized bride I’ve ever seen and the day went off flawlessly. Like, I’m not even joking, their wedding was the most perfect wedding I have ever been to and I’m still reminiscing about how magical the day was (and that perogy bar at midnight).

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We of course had to watch “Bridesmaids” the night before (ohhhh Helen) and were happily in bed by 10. We kicked the wedding day off with mimosas (duh) and got our hair and makeup professionally done. Now, I don’t know about you guys, but I’ve never had my makeup done before. So needless to say when she handed me the mirror I straight up felt like a Kardashian and was trying to budget in my head how I could afford this every weekend. It was literally that great *cue Beyonce music*. The champagne was flowing and oddly enough we were ALL ready ahead of schedule. I of course had to get my emotions in check when I saw Jess in her wedding dress, because having a child has made my heart grow 3 sizes and tears flow on a daily basis. We then all jumped in a limo with the guys and may have cracked a few beverages for the drive. It was pretty heart warming to see the groom so nervous and excited for everything (bring on the waterworks again) and my heart got that warm, fuzzy feeling when they finally got to see each other at the aisle. With the ceremony over, everyone got to enjoy some time to visit (and those beverages again) and it was so cool to see how chill the guests were. Pictures followed right after and that limo was a happenin’ place. Who knew a bunch of Ag people could rap so well? The reception was FLAWLESS (of course) and I can’t even describe to you how beautiful and well thought out it was. I definitely got to witness first hand how Ukranian people party and I was impressed and slightly in awe at the dance skills some of them possessed.

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Sweaty messes on the dancefloor, full of perogies and rum

All in all, I drove the 6 hours home the next afternoon (because hangovers suck) and had a very full heart. The group of people I got to spend my weekend with were wonderful and I definitely left with a few more friends to add into my life. It’s a great feeling seeing two families come together and I will forever remember it. Now if only life could stay on such a high note…

The following Wednesday after I got back, we had made the decision to say good-bye to my  childhood dog Roxy. She lived a very full 14 years here, but sadly cancer had taken over her body. I spent a lot of time with her on the farm and she became quite the fixture in the passenger seat of the Gator. She was the kind of dog who in her prime, did everything from fighting beavers to even taking down two porcupines and landing herself a couple trips to the vet. She was an all or nothing dog and at the end of the day would gladly attempt to curl up in your lap despite her size. She was never one to give up so that made it all even harder. Casey grew fairly attached to her and was always trying to snuggle up with her and give her kisses whenever he got the chance. I’m thankful he’s not at the age yet to quite understand, but at the same time, I kind of wish he was. Good byes are never easy and a family pet is no exception.

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Thankfully, bad days don’t last forever and a certain blue-eyed boy has a way of turning my mood around. This age is so much fun, it’s such a neat feeling to see things through his eyes and watch him experience things for the first time. I have a feeling it’s only going to get better too. Case has become quite the “talker” lately and has even started to “sing”, which is ridiculously cute. He gives me big bear hugs now and calls me Momma, which seriously melts my heart. We were able to end the week off with a fresh haircut and a play date with our pals Carolyn and Ellie. It was a great day to be outside and watching him interact with other kids is priceless. We’re still learning personal space, but so far he’d much rather hug and kiss them than push or shove so that’s gotta be a win of some sort.

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Ummm where did my baby go?

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Straight cheesin’ for the camera
*Photo Creds to Carolyn*

Once again, these past weeks have brought a lot to the table and have given me a reminder on what’s important in life and where to focus my attention and energy. If you’ve made it this far, thank you for being so patient with this long post, I had a lot to get through! And with that, I leave you with one of my new favourite pictures, because who doesn’t love a cute blonde boy and paint pony?

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Current Mood: Wine

Have you ever had a day where it feels like the world is against you? If the answer is no, then you are lying. I know for a fact that everyone has had a day where you wake up in a seemingly good mood, only to be hit square in the face with one frustration after the other until it’s 6 o’clock and you’re drinking straight from the bottle. Well dear readers, today was one of those days. Now I’m not going to fall into a pity party and tell you how awful or aggravating my day was, because really, who wants to read about that? I will tell you though, that today was hard. Nothing tremendous or horrific happened, but it was a day where all the little things slowly added up and built upon one another until it felt like I needed to find a corner to cry in (which I still might). It was a day where I had that overwhelming feeling that life was just not being fair and that I wanted to run — no sprint, as far away as I could. But guess what? I can’t and I won’t.

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Carrie gets it

I refuse to allow one bad day to define my overall feeling of this crazy life I’m living, and I have a sweet little boy to look after and love. Parenting isn’t fun to do when you’re feeling down in the dumps, so some of my motivation comes from that boy’s big grin and twinkling eyes. I could have easily thrown in the towel today and hid under the covers, because believe me, I wanted to, but then that means I would have been defeated by circumstances I can’t control, and I’m not about to let that happen.

After taking a moment to myself and indulging in a new plant for my room (geeky, I know) I decided that getting upset over the day’s events just wasn’t an option. I preach positivity to everyone I know, so I might as well take note and try to see the bigger picture in front of me. Shit happens. Life happens. People happen. THINGS HAPPEN. It’s all a part of living and if it’s beyond my control  then I might as well see it as a lesson and move on, even if it’s the hardest thing to do. There are always going to be tough days, you just have to be tougher. I believe that if you keep your chin up long enough and look on the bright side as much as possible, then good things are bound to come your way (even if you feel like yelling and have dropped 500 f-bombs in your head already).

It’s so easy to get caught up in the “woe is me” feeling, but have you ever noticed that as soon as you do, you start acknowledging the negativity around you and almost start looking for it? It’s not a good time and I have been quite guilty of playing into it in the past. Since these last couple months have been a huge learning curve in the life department, I have learned to not fall prey to the negativity monster lurking around, waiting to rear it’s ugly head. Six months ago I would’ve seen this day as one of the worst, but now, I see it as one bad day and look forward to creating a better day tomorrow. No dwelling, no over-thinking, just recognizing it as a less than stellar day and moving on. Simple. I think…

I may not have all the answers, and I still may drink a bottle of wine and shed a few tears tonight, but one thing I know for certain is that all crappy days come to an end and I have so much more to look forward to in the upcoming weeks. So if you’re having a bad day, please be kind to yourself and do whatever you need to do to pick your chin back up and push your shoulders back and give the things bothering you a big middle finger. Give yourself a pep talk if you need to and remind yourself that you are a strong, independent woman (or man) and that you have no time for things that bring you down. Life happens too fast to be worrying about all the things that have gone or will go wrong. Plus, tomorrow is the weekend, and who can be mad about that?

 

Summer is Here

Now that the dust has settled, I finally feel like I can take a deep breath and sit down and blog. Over the long weekend I hosted my annual barrel racing series, 6th one to be exact, and no matter how much preparing and organizing I do, I always end up feeling flustered and overwhelmed until the exact moment it starts. This year we had lower numbers (only 100 riders) compared to last year when we had about 200. The weeks leading up to it were exhausting. There are so many little things to take care of and no matter what I did, this year proved to be the most difficult. I’m a planner. So obviously I started getting things in order for it in January. I booked the rodeo grounds, got a rough idea of sponsorship money needed and sat down and figured out what prizes and payout should be. Fast forward to June when I think I have everything in place, and my brilliant “planning” started to crumble. The original photographer I had backed out, we were slightly over budget come time to order prizes, and I still was needing a concession to feed these 100 riders. Talk about stressful. It was almost as if I would get one thing handled and then another roadblock would pop up. There was even a moment 2 weeks before that I was sure this would be the last year hosting. Life was much too busy and complicated and I had every excuse in the book as to why I shouldn’t put myself through this again. Whoa.

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People will tell you you’re crazy for hosting a series, but I say the beer helps

Thankfully, my trusty support system talked me out of it and reminded me to STAY POSITIVE. Things started to fall into place quite quickly once that happened. We got a photographer, we got a food truck, we got extra sponsorship money, and we got a great group of volunteers to help us pull it all off. I was breathing a huge sigh of relief when we were finally ready to go and everything was in place an hour before start time. As hard as it was to get the series under control and organized, it was probably one of the best years we have had. We had zero wrecks, were able to get almost 60 riders through in an hour, some very fast and deserving runs were made, and payout and prizes were done without a glitch. It was definitely a weekend full of lessons, like don’t sweat the small stuff, and patience will get you a lot farther than frustration will. I was still smiling at the end of it all, but I won’t lie, the few beers at the end of the day definitely didn’t hurt!

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My biggest fans (and helpers)

I’ve come to realize that being involved in the things you are passionate about can create a love/hate relationship, especially when you are trying to balance motherhood in with it all. It’s easy to get caught up in the stress and hectic atmosphere, but in the end, it’s so worth it. I told myself from the very beginning that I was going to stick with barrel racing and hosting our event, even after having Casey, and I’m so glad I did. I hope that he grows up appreciating the hard work I put into hosting this series for other people and that I can lead by example and instill that same sort of passion into him. After seeing so many people have fun and bring their families out for the weekend, it left me with a very full heart. The memories made by the kids there will never be replaced and it’s one of the best atmospheres for them to grow up in. You can’t beat a weekend full of horses and laughter, so for now I’ll keep hosting them.

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Where To Go From Here

Ok so obviously I have been pretty MIA on here lately. Truth be told, I have put my blog on the back burner and have been focusing on other areas in my life as of late. I have missed it tremendously, and always set good intentions of blogging at night, but with more fresh air and longer days I’ve found myself in bed by 9 o’clock. My bad. I have gone back to work part time and am also doing some tutoring on the side, which leaves me a few spare hours in the week to ride both horses, run when I can and get some quality time in with Casey. I’m also guilty of wanting to be outside 24/7, so I may have to start blogging out on the deck so that it will actually get done! With that being said, I have done a lot of thinking in regards to my blog and the direction I want it to go in.

I have put a lot of pressure on myself (which I must stop doing) as to what the “theme” should be for each of my posts and what I want to convey as a general topic on my blog. Do I stick mostly to child/parenting related topics? More personal, life discussions? Do I want to dig deeper into the rodeo/horse world? Or do I want to keep it casual and post whatever comes to mind? Decisions, decisions. Then there is also the idea of committing certain days to certain topics. This would obviously keep me more accountable with my writing, but I worry that I will be at a loss of words after two weeks of that. Who knew blogging could be so complicated?!

After some thought though, I have decided that above all else, I want to keep this blog honest. I want to talk openly about whatever is on my mind or any of the exciting or mundane things in my life. I want it to be a place where others can go and read and feel connected in some way. I want nothing more than for someone to read a post of mine and say yeah, I’ve been there too. I’m not saying that every post I write will be for everyone, but my hope is that people from all different kinds of backgrounds can browse and find something they can enjoy or connect to. Obviously to some this may seem kind of chaotic, but I’m just not ready to put a label on my blog and focus solely on one aspect. Maybe I will eventually narrow it down, but for now I think I will embrace the disorganization and let my thoughts flow.

Writing is my own personal way of dealing with things as they arise in my life and it is definitely an outlet for me. I have a feeling that some posts may get personal, not to the point of being uncomfortable, but in a way to express myself and work through things. Life can definitely throw some curve balls at you and when the time is right I just may share my experiences thus far. Nobody’s journey is ever an easy one, and for me I feel like we all need to experience some darker times in life in order to truly cherish and recognize the good times. Fear of the unknown has stopped by and camped out in my mind for a while now (which I’m sure is quite common for most people) so I’ve had to practice what I preach and stay on top of my positive thinking and almost make it a habit to not get consumed by that overwhelming feeling. My main goal is to use this blog as a getaway and write out my raw feelings. So be warned, there may be some posts that bring about ALL THE FEELS, but I promise to not get too sappy with them!

The Hostess With The Mostess

Ahhhh jackpot season. The time when fresh horses are drug out of the pasture and colts are being seasoned on the pattern. Jackpots are great to attend. You pay your entry fee, visit with people you haven’t seen in a while, make a few runs that you saw going differently in your mind, and maybe enjoy a few beers at the trailer after. They’re a great outing and generally a relaxing and fun time.

Now switch sides and host a jackpot. There’s quite a bit of a difference when you’re on the other end of it, and I’m not saying it’s bad, but it definitely is not as carefree and straightforward. I’m quite thrilled that this year in our district there are a lot of people stepping up and hosting series or weekly jackpots. My belief is that if you are going to jackpot, you need to host at least once. This way people can realize what goes into planning and executing a jackpot, and be a tad more appreciative when attending one. I’ve hosted smaller jackpots and also bigger jackpots myself, and honestly, the amount of work you put into both is near the same. It doesn’t matter how many people who come, there’s always extra hours needed to get things done and organized.

So with that being said, I have decided to lay out a few pointers and tips for those of you who are thinking about having a jackpot. Please take these with a grain of salt, we’re all adults here 😉

  1. It does not matter how you advertise your jackpot, whether it’s on a website, Facebook, Twitter or posters, people will all call and ask the same questions. Be prepared to smile and offer assistance, even though you had posted ALL the information in plain sight. Keep in mind that if you plan to host more than one jackpot, you need to be nice to people, no matter your mood or feelings. Word of mouth is a huge tool within the barrel racing world and once you have ticked one person off, it spreads quite quickly.
  2. Whether you like it or not, you will likely agonize over the fees to charge. Sit down and decide what you hope to charge for extra fees such as timer fees, arena fees, finals fees etc. Are they all necessary? Generally, the only ones you will need are the finals fees, but if you’re paying out of your pocket for arena use as well as renting timers, then charge for them. It’s so easy to get caught up in trying to please everyone, but there is no sense in forking over a bunch of money for one afternoon. If you want more money going into the pot, then adjust for that. Small, weekly jackpots don’t need to break the bank, but if you are hosting one large weekend jackpot, then maybe accommodate for that and round up. People don’t mind paying more if they believe that there is more to win. It’s a lot easier to travel farther when you know the purse is higher.
  3. Be organized! I cannot stress this enough. Know ahead of time who is taking care of what and have a group of volunteers ready beforehand. It’s easy to think that people will help once they are there, but the sad truth is that most participants will assume you have everything covered and won’t help unless you directly ask them. Do not be afraid to ask! Lots are willing to help if they know exactly what is needed. If you are really in a bind, boyfriends and husbands who are drug along to a jackpot are more than likely bored out of their minds and can make excellent gate men or rakers (as long as it’s on a quad or something motorized). Have a cooler stocked with beer, they seem to work better when they are hydrated 😉
  4. Try to stick to a timeline. Starting on time is best for everyone since nobody likes to get to a jackpot and warm up, only to find out that they’re running behind and won’t start until an hour after the posted time. Be sure to have the ground worked and pattern marked beforehand so that it does not need to be done right before you start. Barrel racers like to stay in the arena as long as humanly possible, so it gets a bit harder to string out measuring tapes when you have everyone loping circles around you.
  5. Be sure to speak up. You are the host, so what you say goes. People will always try to find leeway within the rules, so be sure to stick to your guns. If you are sanctioning with an organization, brush up on their rules so that you are prepared for anything thrown at you. You not only have to think about everyone else’s safety but you have to be able to cover your ass as well. It’s ok to say no people, and most of the time the person asking will be respectful and carry on. You do have the right to send people away if needed, and that’s only in extreme cases. I have never seen this happen (which I am grateful for) so be sure to judge the situation from all angles if it does happen. Nobody likes attending a jackpot full of drama, so keep the crazy to a minimum if you can.
  6. Have someone ready who knows how to do payout. Payout is probably thee most stressful part of the jackpot and no matter how calm and cool you think you are, you will 9 times out of 10 screw up on payout and re-start and be ready to cry. If you can, find a place where people cannot come in and “check their times” so that you can have a quiet place to work on them. If the area has windows, cover them. Nothing is worse than trying to figure out payout and looking out and seeing 30 people hovering around the door pacing until they find out who won. Take as much time as you need, there’s no sense rushing through it only to find out that the wrong people got money and that you have to awkwardly ask for the money back and give it to the righful winner. Been there, done that. It’s not fun. Plus, if the jackpot is larger, please use a computer program to calculate payout, it will save you time and your sanity and everyone will be grateful for that.
  7. Lastly, have thick skin. There will always be people who complain or dare I say, bitch, about every little thing that you did at the jackpot. These people are likely serial complainers and nothing will ever please them. If they hated the ground then keep the attitude that they don’t HAVE to come back. As a host you do as best as you can and you cannot control everything. We’re all human and sometimes things don’t go as planned. No big deal! You will probably be thanked more than you will be cussed at, because really, people are happy to have a place to go to to make a few 17 second runs. Don’t take everything too seriously and know that without hosts, there wouldn’t be jackpots. Do what you gotta do, but always keep your cool and have a laugh and a drink when it’s all said and done.

Hopefully this helps any of you who are thinking of planning a jackpot and didn’t scare anyone off. Hosting can be super fun and with the right group of people, it’s a great time. So cheers to those who consistently host and good luck to those who are just taking a swing at it! We definitely appreciate each and every one of youimage