Life on the X-Bar Ranch...

I am an ordinary woman, with an amazing family, serving an awesome God.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Welcome, Baby!

Reata Sage Schrock
Born: October, 2012
Weight: 4 lbs, 10 oz
Length: 17 inches
Born 6 weeks early

Lucia LOVES and ADORES her baby sister! :) She is a great moniter - she keeps me updates minute by minute on whether Reata is awake or asleep, and whenever she squeaks. :)

The pregnancy and birth of this baby has been long and much too eventful. I will spare you the boring details, but here's a brief  summary:
After a month of strict bedrest here at home, I was able to be up and about for several weeks, when some more serious complications (PPROM) landed me in a hospital 2+ hours from home for 3 weeks, till the baby was born.
Then Reata was born 6 weeks early, so she stayed in the NICU for 4 weeks, growing and learning how to eat. So I stayed there at the Ronald McDonald house and helped care for her.
 Needless to say, my kids were getting pretty tired of being shuffled from babysitter to babysitter, My Cowboy was tired of living alone, and I was tired of living in the hospital!
A week ago Reata was released from the NICU, and we brought our precious treasure HOME! I love having my sweet baby at home!
She's 5 weeks old now, and weighs 6 lbs, 2 oz. She is 17.5 inches long. She is still on 1/16 litre of O2 for the time being, but will likely wean off of it soon.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Easiest-ever Donuts


 Take a can of cheap-o biscuits.
Heat 1/2 inch of oil in a pan over medium heat.
 Mix up a dish of cinnamon-sugar. Just dump, girl.
 Melt a 1/4 cup butter in a dish big enough to hold a donut.
Wash a prescription pill bottle, and use it to cut out the donut holes.
Just kidding! can use whatever you have. :)

  Fry the donuts a few minutes on each side - till golden brown. Drain on paper towels a bit - then dip in butter. Now dip in cinn/sugar mix and stack on a plate. Done!
 And try to grab one or three before your family devours them all!!
 Seriously - I never expected them to be so  delicious.
 Finger-lickin' good.

And that's my delicious-not homemade-fattening-preservative-laden-DIY-delicious tip of the day.
And I am not apologizing. :)  I may or may not have another can of biscuits in the fridge, waiting to be made into donuts. Hot, yummy donuts in 15 minutes?? Oh yeah. I'm on board!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Lucia's Birthday

Miss Lucia turned 4 years old today.
I have a cut-out cake book that the kids get to choose from, every birthday.
'Cia chose a daschund. Of all silly-lookin' dogs.
 Who knows what inspires a 4-year-old?? :)
 She had a hard time blowing the candles out.
 She has been begging for  stick horse the last few months - so I figured that would be a hit.

Happy Birthday, sweet girl! You bring a lot of joy and fun into this house.

Friday, September 7, 2012

It's That Time of Year...

It's cattle-workin' time on the ranch.
Time for pre-conditioning the babies.
Cowboys saddling up in the coolness of early morning.
Gathering cattle.
Giving shots.
                                                             Pre-conditioning last year.

And I am missing it. I was recently taken off of strict bed rest, but I am still supposed to be taking it easy. When I asked My Cowboy if I could ask to cook for the cowboys this week, the answer was a flat 'No'. I wasn't surprised. He is very careful with me and Baby. I should just walk out and take a few pictures, I suppose, but haven't even felt in the mood to do that.
From last fall's 'cooking for the cowboys'....

Instead, I have been organizing my house - one cupboard and drawer at a time. I can't work in the yard, the garden was destroyed by varmints while I was on bed rest, so that leaves the house.
I do need to make space in the girl's room for another girl, anyways, so it's  good I am stuck doing what I normally don't take time to do.

I have been searching the ever-popular Pinterest for organizing tips, and finding some pretty inspiring blogs and websites. Of course - I don't have a Container Store or Ikea anywhere close to me, so I can't really duplicate the most attractive storage/organizing solutions. But where there's a will, there's a way! (Right?)

Fall is right around the corner, and that makes me in the mood for even more cooking, writing, and projects. Is it just me, or does anyone else get the 'indoor-productive-itch' about this time of year?  :)

Thursday, September 6, 2012

What is Really Important?

What is important to you?

I was thinking of this recently, in a moment of reflection. It's so easy to float through life, just doing the things that need to be done, planning and working and yes, even taking some 'down-time, so we don't get 'burned out'. 

We go to church and sing praise songs, we agree with powerful messages, we lay down in our beds at night and say a quick prayer before falling asleep. We may get up early and pray for an hour before we start the day. We may read three chapters of Scripture daily - at any cost.

 We may make a commitment to raise our kids in a Godly home - foregoing all the modern entertainment and distractions that are easy to provide. We home school. Or we find the best Christian/academic school possible, and send them there.

We go to marriage retreats, women's retreats, and men's retreats. We read great biographies of Godly people. We devour adoption blogs and dream of making a difference.

We spend less time on Facebook, so we can be better mothers/wives/husbands/fathers/students/Christians.

We read Godly mothering blogs, books, and magazines, and we feel guilty that we are not teaching our kids three languages and that they can't recite the Sermon on the Mount and play at least one instrument proficiently. We look around at our house and wonder if what we're doing really matters? And what are we really doing, anyways? The house looks like a whirlwind swept through - and we just cleaned it up!

My friends - what are we doing? And does it matter?
I have felt the guilt. I have tried the supermom-superwife-superChristian road. It doesn't satisfy. We are not meant to live a copy/paste life, taken from the pages of some book, blog or friend. We will fail, and fail miserably.

Photo credit to Rose Miller.
 We are created for one purpose, and one purpose only: To love and be loved by our Creator. To honor Him and His Name on this earth. To love one another.

What is the greatest commandment? A lawyer asked this of Jesus one time, many hundreds of years ago. And Jesus answered:
"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." Matthew 22:37-39.

This is what it all comes down to, my friends.
Do you love God?
Do you love your neighbor?
And are you passing that love along to your children?

 It doesn't matter so much if they can't say the Sermon on the mount by memory - if they love God.
It won't hurt them in life to never have studied Latin - if they love God.
They won't care if your home looked like a Pinterest home - if they know they are loved. 
They may not know more than one language their whole lives - but if they love their neighbor, they don't need a language to get that love across!

    You may only be able to snatch moments here and there for reading the Word of God, but if you love God with your whole heart, soul, and mind - your family will be blessed.
    It may not be in God's plan for your family to adopt, go on a mission, or even be on the VBS committee. But if you love your neighbor as yourself, you will find plenty of opportunities to love on people - starting with your family.

 Sometimes we need to get off our knees, and get a drink for our toddlers.
 Close the Bible and open a book to read to the little ones.
 Put down the duster, and pick up our babies - just for snuggles.
 Stop running around for others - and take our kids on a walk.
 Leave the house a mess, and go sit on the couch with our husband.
The house will always be there - waiting to be cleaned, but we never know when our family may be gone.

It is imperative that we love our children. Our spouses. That we teach our children to love God passionately. He doesn't need our sacrifices. He wants our love. He is our Bridegroom - desiring only our deepest devotion and affection. All of life and it's frantic hurrying and scurrying must fade away as we gaze into the face of our Beloved. That doesn't mean we must be hermits to be still. When we love our family - we are loving Him.

 Brother Lawrence said: " I can sit at the feet of Jesus just as much amid the clattering of pots and pans in the kitchen, as I can while at prayers." (And he was a monk.)

We need to come back to the important thing in life - loving God.
We need to have a deep, passionate love for God, and pass that on to our children.
We need to learn that being holy does not mean being unreachable.
This, my friends, is what is important.


Saturday, August 25, 2012

4 weeks of Bed Rest

Today I shall give you an update on the home situation around here. It may be boring to some of you - so feel free to pass. :)
It's been 4 weeks since I was put on bed rest.
Really? In a way - it doesn't seem that long, on the other hand - I feel like I have been laying on my couch the whole summer.
I have been laying here all of August.  That's a long time, baby. Of course, I have been under restrictions since the first week in July, so I haven't really been 'normal' since then. 
After 4 completely normal pregnancies, I never figured it possible to have such a complicated pregnancy. 
Boy, was I wrong! I guess it's true when they say that 'every pregnancy is different'!  
Am I depressed? No.
Well, ok. It does seem long. Some days I struggle with boredom and/or loneliness. But I can say that the grace of God has been abundant. I feel so blessed to still be carrying this baby.
They didn't give me much hope, back at 9 weeks when I was in the ER.
Or at 12 weeks when I had another ultrasound.
Or at 18 weeks. 
But here I am: 27 weeks, baby is measuring normal size, and from all appearances is a healthy, growing baby! Thank you, God!
I am being taken care of by my wonderful, amazing family: my handsome husband, my sweet kids... they  all pitch in and run the house, fix me food, and care for my hobbies (chickens/garden) while I can't.
                                      Beautiful flowers from My Cowboy and the kids.

Then there's my kind friends.
1.  My friend Karmen drove over an hour one day to visit me. She stocked my fridge and freezer with food, loaned me a stack of books, books on tape, dvd's, and her laptop!! and she placed her adorable baby boy on my lap, so I could snuggle with him. Sometimes it's the little things in life....

2.Then my friend Jodiann drove up another day...also an hour's drive. (yeah, we kinda live far from anyone) She brought loads of delicious food, goodies for the kids, books, books on tape, and of course, conversation! She also did a big stack of ironing, and cleaned out my fridge!!! Ok, there are seriously only a handful of people in this world who I would allow to clean out my fridge. Jodiann is one of them. :) It was really, really bad, too. Thanks, Jodi! Every time I walked past the fridge for the next 2 days - I opened it, just to admire the clean-ness of it! lol!

3. One Sunday Phil & Katie drove up.  1.5 hour drive for them. They brought some of the kids' friends along, which was a nice surprise. They also brought food, and conversation, and Katie made popcorn! :) I am a huge 'popcorn-on-Sunday-afternoon' freak, and we've been missing the cord to our popper for several weeks. So when she asked what I was hungry for, I said popcorn. :) I loved it.

4. Gretchen (Cliff's boss' mom) brought a yummy meal one day. (The best brownies ever!) She lives in town, and has a pretty full schedule - I was honored that she took time to make a homemade meal.

5. A neighbor, Kaley, who I had only met once or twice, offered many times to pick up anything in town that we needed. One evening she brought milk and cereal for us. She's a good American. A good neighbor.

                                                    Flowers from my mom.
6. Then there's my cleaning girl, Heidi, who comes every week and deep-cleans my bathrooms and kitchen. She doesn't even like to accept pay - even though she drives 3 hours round-trip. Her mother sent a delicious meal yesterday - thanks, Karen!

7. There has been various friends and neighbors who have offered help, and there are many friends who pray on a regular basis for our family and this baby. It is all much appreciated. On Sunday, My Cowboy came home from church with food for our freezer...lots of food from friends. And a book from yet another friend. 

8. Last but not least:  when I was first put on bed rest, the first person to call me was my brother. The next day another brother called. I am so blessed to have loving brothers and sisters that care about me, and faithfully call and help pass the time. I just wanna give a shout out to my siblings... Jerry, Jason, Darrell, Jane, Carol, and Rose. What a wonderful family I have! 
Of course, my mom and Cliff's mom keep track of me too.

Are you still with me? :) Ok. All that to say: How could I possibly be depressed?!? I have wonderful, caring friends, loving family, and an awesome God. My needs are provided for, my wants are catered to, and I have the privilege of carrying daughter number 3! 
I can be nothing but grateful. 

                                                 ~27 weeks pregnant~

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Laramie Jubilee Days Ranch Rodeo

One day in early July, we loaded the horses into our old trailer, packed some sandwiches into a cooler, and headed west to Laramie.
The annual Laramie Ranch Rodeo was on, and My Cowboy was on a team with 3 of his buddies.

Coming over Sherman Hill, into the Big Laramie Valley.

Getting the event rules...

Waiting their turn... My Cowboy is hiding in the back, with a blue-check shirt.

 I missed them coming out the gate. Here My Cowboy is already on the ground, ready to brand the calf.

Roger Lorenzi - the local brand inspector.
 Lorenzi again...
 My Cowboy was behind the trailer while he was branding - so I just got a glimpse of him.

                                                  Lane Stevenson handing him the (cold) branding iron.

                                                My Cowboy returning the brandin' iron to the bucket.

                                Lane has the steer that needs trailered on the end of his rope.

 And how many cowboys does it take to trailer a recalcitrant steer?

 At least four. Caught My Cowboy jumping off his horse to add some manpower to the action!

Push 'em in, boys!

Oh, this one was not at all interested in going into that trailer!!

Finally. Got him in.

Now to hightail it back to the finish line, so the timer can stop...
Lane politely waited to hand My Cowboy his reins. Cowboys are so mannerly. They show respect and deference to their peers. I like that about them. (Catch me going to a sport where guys get paid millions to knock each others teeth out!)

Makin' the run to the finish line!


They didn't place - but they did pretty good! Four events in 3.6 minutes. Not bad! They came in #6 out of 14 teams. A nice way to spend your day off. :)

Friday, August 3, 2012


"The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot. The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance. I bless the LORD who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me. I have set the LORD always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure. For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption. You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore."
Psalm 16:5-11
     It is amazing what just a week of stillness will do for your spirit.
     I never wanted to be stuck on the sidelines - especially not in the middle of a busy summer, while trying to prepare for a new baby! I don't enjoy giving orders from my couch all day. However, there is an element of stillness that is hard to experience when life is rushing along at break-neck speed!
     But now.

     Now I am restricted to my couch or bed for 24 hours a day. I haven't washed dishes or walked to my garden for a week. I am not allowed to buy groceries or make the beds. I cannot toss a load of laundry from the washer to the dryer - let alone hang them on the line to dry in the warm summer sunshine. I cannot jump in the truck and go put out salt with My Cowboy, or even fry his eggs in the morning.

     While my flesh and soul cries out to be able to serve my family - I have been learning what it means to be still. Quiet. 
     Sometimes you will hear a pastor or someone in a church service encourage everyone to "quiet their hearts before the Lord". I always think to myself; "How am I supposed to do that?"  There's the toddler tugging at my skirt, the person behind me poking buttons on their cell phone, and the sudden siren outside the window. It's pretty much impossible to really get quiet before God in a public place. At least  for me. I try - I really do. I can definitely praise Him in a crowd. I can pray to him. I can hear from Him, certainly. But get really still before Him? Quiet my heart? No. Not really.

     This forced stillness of body has given time for reflection. For soul-searching. Thinking. Reading. ( I would like to sound spiritual and say praying, but I have spent a lot more time in reflection, meditation, and reading, than I have in prayer.) And it's been good. I am taking time to see the things in my life that I would secretly like to ignore or dismiss as unimportant. Like how impatient I can be with my children. (It just happens once in a while, and after all, that's life, right?)  Or how self-serving my conversations can become. (Oh, you have stories and feelings and happenings in your life, too? I really only want to talk about ME!)
    I am ashamed when I think how much ME there is left in me. While I can brush it aside in daily busyness, I cannot avoid it when I have nothing to do but lay in bed and think about every word I say all day. Every phone conversation, and every family interaction. 

Then I said; "Woe is me, for I am ruined!
Because I am a man of unclean lips,
And I live among a people of unclean lips;
For my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of Hosts."
                                                          Isaiah  6:5   

When I see the King, I see myself for who I really am. The Light shines on my heart and reveals the innermost parts that I don't want to acknowledge. I am irresistibly drawn to the Light.  I am repulsed by my own uncleanness. That is a good thing - for only when I see my need for redemption and grace, can it be given. When I repent of my sin, I can be forgiven. When I see a lack of power to overcome sin in my personal life, I can humble myself and come boldly before the throne of grace to receive mercy and grace.

Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.  Hebrews 4:16

I am thankful for this time of stillness in my life. It is certainly not my chosen path, but already I can see that it will be an invaluable time of learning, growing and instruction in my life.
 I can echo the words of the Psalmist, when he says:

You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore."

Note: I am on strict bed rest for complications with my pregnancy.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Reason For My Life

Amazing love
How can it be
That you, my King, would die for me?
Amazing love
I know it's true
It's my joy to honor You
In all I do, I honor You.

I’m forgiven because You were forsaken,
I’m accepted, You were condemned.
I am alive and well, Your spirit is within me,
Because You died and rose again.


     After a very pain-filled and worrisome night, I woke to the soothing strains of this song drifting in through my bedroom door.
     If you know me well, you will know that I am not a fan of contemporary Christian music, as a whole. However, that is the only kind of Christian music they play on the radio out here, and sometimes we turn it on for lack of anything better! Of course, like many churches - our church has taken to singing primarily contemporary songs, so I have learned to appreciate a few of the songs.
     As I lay there on my bed, I listened to this song, and was reminded again of the why of my life. The reason I live the way I do. The goal of my life.
I am not a free-wheeling, self-pleasing person. I serve a King. A King who died for me. A King who laid aside His Kingship for 33 years to live as a human - same body, same faults I face. He showed me the Way. He showed me an example. He didn't sit on His throne and say: "Be perfect, like me."  No, He came as a human, lived as a poor, misunderstood, mocked, un-appreciated Person, and then said: "Follow me."
He died for me - I must follow.
He loves me - I must follow.
His Spirit lives within me - I must follow.
I have one consuming goal in my life; To honor God.
One purpose; To be a disciple of Jesus.
And the second purpose is the same: To love my fellowman as myself.
This is the basis for my life. This sets the tone for all I do. I am not where I want to be. I fail often. I still act selfishly, unkindly, arrogantly, and despicably at times. But this is my goal. Above all else. I want to honor God, be a devoted, humble disciple of Jesus, and live in love and compassion toward my fellowman.

And it is a joy!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Branding on the 4th of July

We were invited to our friends' branding on the 4th of July. 
So we drove through smoke-smothered countryside till we made the ranch. The air was a bit clearer at that ranch then it was here along Horse Creek.

 Cowboys never get enough roping. Trying out each other's ropes... Poly vs.  Reata vs. 4-strand vs who knows what.

 The kids explored new territory, and raced their imaginary horses.
 Or their stick ones. Lucia's 'horse' is named Tim. Just so you know.

Riding out to gather cattle.

 Bringin' them in.

 Headin' and heelin'.

 Baby Hyatt is such a cutie! He is quite the happy baby - full of grins and chubby adorableness. I don't think he likes the camera, though.

 My Cowboy is using one of my cinchas on his saddle.  I really enjoy making cinchas. I love trying new color combinations, and new designs. is my new favorite website/store.

The boss cuttin', and his wife runnin' the iron. We worked with them several winters in Laramie.We really enjoyed being invited to their branding, yesterday.

Check yer cinch and ride the brand.