Friday, October 28

Stingy with his smiles

Although Levi's first smile appeared a couple weeks ago, it's remained a rare sighting up until the last couple days, when he's been willing to show a little more of the happy emotion. The above photo is the first one caught on film...

Monday, October 24

Enjoy: neighborhood trees and houses

Yesterday Levi and I were home alone, as Scott was still up at the ranch helping with some cow work, so Levi and I packed up in the stroller, grabbed the camera and went walking for over two miles around our neighborhood, enjoying the beautiful weather and trees.

I know I've said it on my blog before, but I think the area of town where we live is the best part. Or maybe I'm just partial. :-) The house above is our neighbors' across the street.

Most of the houses in the well-established area are early 1900s. Ours is 1922.

And I love all the big trees!

The green house above is a favorite of mine. Because the garages in the area are so small some people have turned them into living space and I'd love to see how they look inside.

Needless to say, we enjoyed ourselves very much, and it was a perfect opportunity because Scott could care less about looking at the old houses and their pretty fall decorations on the front steps and porches. :-)

Sunday, October 23

P.S. New photo viewer

I just discovered that Blogger has changed so that if you click on one photo in a post to view it larger, it'll bring up a slide show of all the photos in the post. Maybe that's old news, but I've obviously been doing less and discovering less on my blog these days. :-)

Notes on the new camera: Still love it! I took those photos yesterday with my little red Canon, because it fits easily in my vest pocket, but they sure are worlds apart from the job the new camera does! I still haven't got the new printer up and running. It's at least out of the box! But I haven't sat down with it and my computer yet to actually do the first test run.

For the first time in four months:

For the first time since the beginning of July, yesterday I mounted up on a horse and went out to help gather a pasture, and it sure was nice to be out again!

Bob, Scott and I loaded up the horses and headed out to a pasture on the association to gather up the assortment of cattle that included heifers, bulls and rebreeds. Scott and Bob went one way, and I went another with the two sidekicks - Foxy, above, and Lucy, pictured below.

They would gather cows all day every day if given half the chance. The thing with Lucy is, if everything is going too smoothly, she creates excitement by choosing a cow to pick on, driving it into the rest of the bunch and usually sending them all running.

The cattle were spread to the four corners of the 8,000-acre pasture, so I first headed to gather up a couple groups that were off by themselves. There are Iowa heifers in this group!

And then I added another group, which had taken off heading due west since we'd last seen them, and required a detour at a trot by Deets, the girls and myself. Since my mares foaled last spring, Scott's gelding Deets and I have been a pair when I ride, and we get along fine, except he's very tall so I avoid getting off him at all costs, only dismounting when we get back to the barn or trailer.

I left those heifers with another group hanging out by the road, and went to help Scott gather a larger group and bring them the same direction. Scott was riding his colt Medicine Hat yesterday, who we got broke earlier this summer.

Then I went to make sure Bob didn't need any help - we couldn't see him as he was behind a little hill, and the above photo is looking back at Scott trailing behind the heifers and bulls.

Then the two groups combined at the gate in the corner.

And we held them up to sort off four cows that needed to head to the corral.

After finishing those tasks we went to the house where Bob and Scott switched horses and we ate lunch. The night before I'd packed a cooler with a pork roast I'd shredded. Half of it had regular bbq sauce and the other half had a jalapeno bbq sauce that's really pretty good. I'd also put together a corn casserole that Shirley put in the oven to bake there at the ranch house. She stayed with Levi in the house all day, and she's much appreciated! We also had lettuce salad and the pumpkin chip cookies with frosting that are a fall Hemken tradition.

Then we headed to the lower end of the ranch to help load another small bunch of cattle.

And then we were done for the day. We sure picked a good one to be outside all day! Shirley, Levi and I headed back into town shortly, where Levi and I took an early bedtime. In a couple years Levi will be riding along with us on his own horse instead of staying at the ranch house. :-)

Friday, October 21

This is Antelope Hunting

Step one: load the baby in the front, the dogs in the back, and head up to the ranch. Drop Scott off at a reservoir, and head to appointed meeting place. Feed baby.

Step two: dogs wait patiently in the truck until the baby's belly's full.

Step three: enjoy the scenery and the gorgeous morning while waiting for Scott. That's the ranch house in the distance, past the reservoir that went dry last spring.

Step four: get out and start playing around taking some photos, while the dogs run to welcome Scott back to the truck.

Step five: continue driving around areas of the ranch that are in Scott's hunting area. Follow obscure two-tracks. :-)

Step six: keep looking, but don't find the antelope that Scott wants, and dogs dutifully keep an eye out.

Step seven: give up on the antelope hunt for the day, and head over the 'mountain' to the north side, where the rest of the family members are hunting deer and elk in the timber.

That was our day last Saturday. :-) I hope yours was as enjoyable! Tomorrow we're headed up to the ranch to gather cows - Grandma Martinez is watching Levi while we're out riding.

Monday, October 17

A Monday: Seven Weeks

Today we woke up to a very cold, chilly, wet Monday. That meant the first thing to do upon going upstairs was restarting the fire in our wood stove.

Today Levi is seven weeks old, and we've settled into what might slightly resemble a morning routine. Every morning (usually) I wake up for the last time between five and six. Depending on the night, sometimes I'm up as many as three times with Levi, and if I'm lucky it's only once at about 2 a.m. When I wake up for the last time I feed him and (usually) put him back down in his crib. Sometimes he stays awake to stretch and groan, and other times he'll drift back to sleep. I take advantage of that time to pump - something I try to be very consistent with, and I usually get about four ounces of milk to store away in the freezer - and then I (usually) head upstairs to eat breakfast and visit with Scott before he leaves for the day. Then, if it's a Monday, Wednesday or Friday I head back downstairs around 6:45 or 7 to shower, and if I'm lucky Levi has still been sleeping or happy the whole time and is still content in his crib. After I get myself all ready, or until Levi is demanding he needs attention for something, I change him, dress him for the day and sit down with him about 7:30 to feed him again before heading to the office just before 8.

It's a system that works pretty well for us, and on Tuesdays and Thursdays when I work from home we follow the same schedule up to the point of dressing for the day. The beauty of getting to stay home is that I can get right down to work, without having to plan everything out carefully to get us to the office on time. It's amazing how much my life has changed to a schedule that abides by Levi's feeding times, which come about every two hours during the day. Making sure his belly's full before going anywhere is key, because he is not a patient boy when he is hungry. There's nothing to be done to quiet him down when his belly's empty, so before leaving for work, before running to the store, before heading to the ranch, before going to appointments, we must be sure that Levi is fed. And when he's fed, he's full. His little belly gets plump and round like a little well-fed puppy or piglet.

On Mondays when I'm in the office I try to get all my phone calls and interviews done for my articles for the week. That way, when I need to make some calls, I let my coworkers know and they're kind enough to come get Levi if he starts to fuss while I'm mid-interview, though I usually try to time it so that I can make phone calls when he's sleeping or happily entertaining himself on the floor. He likes to lay on the floor and kick and stretch and flail his arms and look around, especially at the fluorescent lights.

Then on Tuesdays I can write my articles and start organizing things in my files for that week's paper so that on Wednesday morning I can finalize any loose ends with articles, edit anything coming in from Saige or correspondents and get all the details together, like our news briefs, columns, obituaries, opinions.... that's the long part. I do my best to get most of the key editorial to layout by noon on Wednesdays, and it usually takes all afternoon to get the last of it finished and sent to her.

Thursday, which is at home, is my 'free' day of the week when I can (hopefully) catch up on whatever loose ends might still be hanging out there. I work on planning for future articles, contact correspondents about deadlines, contact the next week's columnists, and generally make sure I'm on top of things. Which reminds me, this week I need to finalize our Winter Cattlemen's article sheet. Special editions never end!

Fridays we're back in the office, putting the paper out in the morning and getting everything as close to perfect as possible, and Friday afternoon I make sure I've got a good understanding of what I need to do for the next week so I've got a plan of action come Monday morning.

And all this working around Levi's schedule and demands. :-) But really, I feel like it's working out pretty well juggling the two things. Granted, the first couple weeks were a little rough, but I feel like I'm getting the hang of it, and learning the 'new-mom skill' of getting work done at any moment when he's not demanding attention. I think that's the key to the whole thing. :-)

Even though it still feels like we've had him just a short time, I can't imagine not having him, and he's really fit into our lives pretty well. When we need to go somewhere we just pack him up and take him with us, feeding and changing him at the appropriate intervals, and he's proven to be a trooper, even as the newest Roundup employee. :-)

Friday, October 14

The Six-Week Check-Ups

Here we are! Levi and I have both made it to our week of six-week check-ups with our respective doctors. Levi went in to his on Tuesday, and he now weighs 11.5 pounds and he's 22.5 inches long, which means he's grown half an inch every week since his last check-up. No wonder he eats so much!

He's started smiling just a little bit, and he still talks and moves constantly. Luckily when he talks at night he doesn't keep me up, but Scott says this morning he was awake and talking almost constantly from 3 to 6 a.m. He doesn't fuss, he just lays in his crib and looks around at everything and keeps a running commentary of talking, grunts and groans.

He's able to hold his head up really well. When you hold him on your shoulder he holds his head up on his own and takes it all in, especially if you walk around with him. He loves to lie on the couch and stare up at Scott's antelope head.

My appointment is in about an hour, when Dr. Smothers is supposed to officially clear me from my c-section surgery, not that I haven't already been doing everything again, anyway, especially with Scott having his abdominal surgery soon after mine.

I'm curious to see what my official doctor's office weight will be... to me, I think I'm down at least 20 pounds from before Levi was born, and I'm steadily fitting into my old jeans, one by one, and it's nice to have my wardrobe back!

Tonight Aunt Penny and Cousin Kyle will be here to spend the night with us, because they're going elk hunting tomorrow while we look for antelope, so Penny is going to look after Levi and Scott and I are planning a trip to the Beacon. It's evenings like this that are the reason I've been diligently pumping to store up enough for Levi to eat. I try to pump every morning at his 5-6 a.m. feeding, and I've been pleased to get about three or four ounces of extra milk to stockpile every morning.

So, Levi's check-up had positive results with a good report for the doctor, so hopefully mine is as encouraging!

Thursday, October 13

It's high time for a new post!

I realize that it's been way too long since I've updated my blog! These days seem to fly by, and between looking after Levi, the Roundup, the house and everything else, unfortunately the blog is pretty low on the priority list.

It was already a week ago that Levi and I hopped in my truck and headed to the ranch with my new camera - that's right! there have been all kinds of developments around here. We were headed up to find some 'fall photos' for last week's paper, and Scott had reminded me that Bob and others were gathering cows so we went up to find them.

On the way up we passed this bull hanging out near a place on the ranch called Willow Springs. It was a stop on the Oregon Trail, and later a stop for the Pony Express. While it used to have many springs and trees, all that remains today is one little spring, a dead tree and the foundation for the building used by the Pony Express. A little farther up the road to the west, the Oregon Trail ruts are still very visible traveling up a draw that parallels today's road.

Anyway, after using my field glasses that my wonderful husband gave me to keep in my truck, I did find the riders out gathering the cows, and discovered that I was a couple miles behind them, so Levi and I went back to the county road, found another two-track, and after about five phone calls to Scott for guidance as to what fenceline they'd come down and where the best place would be for photos, we ended up at the above location, a reservoir with some of the only trees on the whole 90,000+ acre ranch.

After we finished at that location, we headed off down the two-track at Bob's directions, to meet up with them again as they reached the meadows up from the ranch house. That's when we stopped for this photo, looking back down the road toward the lone trees.

Obviously Levi is a very attentive assistant. This photo was taken after we took a quick meal break for him. Sometimes it feels like I've nursed him in a truck many more times than I have in my rocking chair in his room. This time I even moved my truck while feeding him... you gotta do what you gotta do. :-)

We opened the gate and waited for the cows to come down the fenceline.

So that's what we did last Thursday. On Saturday it was very cold and rainy, so Levi and I enjoyed a nice day at the house with a fire going, and on Sunday we headed up to the ranch where Scott and the others were shipping these calves that were gathered in the photos. This weekend we're going antelope hunting again, to see if Scott can get his.

On the new camera front, the local camera shop here in town had a deal where if I bought a new Canon camera I got a high-quality Canon photo printer for free, plus a $50 rebate on the camera, so after talking to Scott I sprung for it and have been enjoying it very much. Alas, the printer has not yet made it out of the box. I keep saying, 'Maybe today it will get its trial run,' but it hasn't happened yet.

For now, Levi is awake, and needs to be fed.