June in a Nutshell

I actually got all my Photo a Day pictures taken! What an addiction! I will not bore you with the details only to tell you that the July list is ready for you at Chantelle's Blog, Fat Mum Slim
Please come and play with me! It's so much fun! 
These are my shots, plus a few more I really liked, as I really can't get enough of Instagram. 

Find me on Instagram @ranchmama. 

This month we did lots of fun stuff. These are the highlights:

• Last day of School! 

• Cleaned house to host a lunch 

• Had the church over for a wood cutting project & lunch

• Went to the orthodontist, again. 

• Had allergy shots. She's only getting them every 3 weeks now! Yay! 

• Had "No Scream For Ice Cream!" 
(This is to keep the poor kid from screaming when she get's her allergy shots.)

• Had vaccinations for a 4 year old and a 15 month old
(Don't do that at the same time! It will kill Mama!)

• Got bad colds 

• Had teething pain

• Did more laundry than I've ever done in one day in my life

• Cleaned house for company

• Welcomed the in-laws! 

• Went on a hike through the Aspen Grove to the Indian Grave Yard

• Flew kites with Grandma

• Went on a horseback ride in a rain storm
• Got to have an amazing view of the valley

• Some kids got to ride horses for the first time

• Hiked to the ridge in a wind storm

• Went to the museum in Little Town and the Made in Montana Store

These two were made in Montana too!

• had a kid get carsick

• Went on an overnight trip to Idaho's Yellowstone Bear World

• Kids fed bear cubs

• got home before dark

Don't worry, I'll go into more details in the future. 
Have a wonderful rest of your weekend!

The Time My Kid Pooped in the Orthodontist's Office

Potty training. It's the best!
Let me tell you!

If you have kids, you're gonna have to deal with it someday. Some kids get it right away. Some kids don't. Some kids, once they've got it, really get it! Some kids, not so much. But you gotta stick with it!

When you've been at it for awhile you start to notice the child's signs of needing to go. But that doesn't always mean they will want to stop what they've been doing to "go!" It's hard when they are engrossed in a game, to pull away and take a minute in the bathroom. They sometimes wont even realize they had to go. Some kids are like that. They don't even realize they need to go, until they've gone. These are the kids that are racing down the hall to go when they are older. They wait till the last minute, and they may not get there in time.

It's also hard when you're away from home. Say, in a nice neat Orthodontist's office, with a really cool play area, just for you! With a heat sensor mat on the wall where you can make handprints, and lots of books and magna doodle bads and a bead roller coaster thingy! And you just went to the bathroom before you got there, when mom was changing the baby. But still she keeps asking, "are you sure you don't want to just try and go poop?" And there's another little baby who wants to play and her daddy too.

That is exactly what happened to us, when a nice little poopy came sliding down his pant leg and landed right on the floor, for all to see. AAHHGG! It was also at that moment when the doctor wanted to see me, the mother of the tween who was getting her braces on. I told him he had to wait.

When we got back from the restroom, the father and his little girl were no longer in the office waiting area. Can you blame him?

We are still measuring success at a daily hourly rate. But he'll get it. I'm sure he will. Before he get's his driver's license.


The Day We Went To Big Town

A day in photo...

ugh, the traffic! 

No need to get too close buddy! 

Gotta have our beverages...

And our reading material!

Big Town. 
Finally there.

Lunch. I can never eat just a plane dog!

Run run run. 
Let's get it all done! 

Returns at the mall are always a dangerous game.

Now where did we park? 
Oh I see it, it's the dirtiest one in the lot!

Killing time in line.

Heading home. 
And it's after 6pm. 
The sun is still so high! 

There's the mountains, 
almost there. 


Going Home

California Street cable car
via A Southerner in San Francisco 
I'm homesick. In the past I would pack up the kids and say "So Long" to my love and hit the road. But the last time I did that my 3rd kiddo was 15 months and we were gone for a whole  month and I came back pooped as last weeks diaper pail. So I haven't done it since. And I guess I'm missing it.

There were a few factors that contributed to this state. And I want to share them with you because they are great.

First was a blog by James A Martin, A Southerner in San Francisco. I really like reading his personal blog and this one touched home. I grew up just minutes from the city and have always thought of San Fran as home. This post about 5 things that can only happen in SF was lots of fun. A great trip down memory lane. I particularly remember trying to drive with my friends to our girlfriends wedding, all done up with a car full of brides maids when we got struck in traffic. Not your run of the mill traffic however as it was the annual Folsom Street Fair. We sat in the throng of the leather queens and got a front row seat to the show. I remember thinking we were going to miss the wedding! We did make it however, and made some fun memories that include backless chaps and lots of chains. 

This brought on so many other memories of growing up so close to the City. The first Earth Day at Chrissy Fields, The Bill Graham Memorial Concert, Shopping in the thrift stores, the commuter train, China town. I could go on. 

Loot store front, Santa Cruz CA

I had a friend post a picture of herself on Facebook that brought another flood back. It was of her on a beach lined with eucalyptus trees. She lives in Santa Cruz. My other favorite city. Memories of the boardwalk as a kid, or the National Beach Volleyball Tournament at the boardwalk as a teen (I was a spectator and enjoyed every minute of it!). Walking the tide pools at Natural Bridges. Again, more memories than I can count. But this friend owns a shop now in SC called Loot and I would love to go see it! She refinishes and sells vintage home furnishings and teaches classes. How I would love to go and learn from her first hand and not through messaging! She also participated in a weekend fair at Yoder's Goat Farm in Los Gatos, close to where my husband grew up and I would have loved to have seen it. 

byrd & vellum photography 
Lastly, another friend started a photo studio, byrd and vellum, and her work is to die for! I want to go have a photo shoot with her SO bad! You can check her out on Facebook here. Can't you just see some great, vintage cowgirl shots but in the city some where!? She is so talented! 

So I guess I have my next road trip all planned out! And now that we have a date for our 20th high school reunion, perhaps it may just happen! Wouldn't that be fun! 


Working From Home or Living At Work ~ Is There A Difference?

Darling Adventure Man (aka DAM) is a really awesome father. I knew he would be. He's quiet, and patient and funny. He's really good at getting a whiney kid to laugh. He says, "You know what would help? Whining about it! (or crying or what ever) Let's all whine about it!" And then we all pipe up and the kids see the foolishness in their behavior.

DAM's Father's day, yesterday, kind of sucked. No, it really sucked. His wife, me, was up all night holding a baby who had a fever and was throwing up. We've all been there. So, the big breakfast I had originally planned on having for him when he woke was replace by him taking the baby and sending me to bed. He turned Father's Day into truly stepping up and being a Dad. I am very greatful. He did later get to take a nap. But then it was off to have dinner with the new arrivals and do the whole welcome thing. I think I'll plan something for later in the week, when he can be present and pampered.

Adventure Man goes to work about 7:30 or 8. He goes and has breakfast with the guests. He comes home and brushes his teeth then heads back to the office. Meets with the staff; has phone meetings. He answers phones and makes reservations, works out problems with the staff; handles guests problems; he helps with maintenance work. He comes home around 5:30 and changes his clothes, and sometimes showers if he has been hiking with the guest or working on repairs of some sort. Then he goes back and has dinner. He gets home for good about 9 or sometimes 10 that evening.

This schedule is not constant. He tries to rotate who eats with the guests so he can be home with us. But on average, he will work a 12 hour day. One of the challenges of living right here on the property, is that you never really get to leave work. We see guests and staff coming and going. We can be here to help in an emergancy. Once we had a guest come racing to our door at 2am calling for help, as her companion was having a diabetic attack. Adventure Man is a Wilderness First Responder, a volunteer fireman, and an EMT. We called 911, as the guests don't have phones in their rooms and DAM took care of things. That's what he does.

And so it goes. He's the Father of my children, my Husband, my lover, my friend. He's a hard working Man. He's the Innkeeper. And I am so very grateful to have him. Happy You are the Best Dad Ever, Day. Everyday!


Family Time, a Missing Pond and a Piss in the Woods

We had a day last week when Adventure Man was off. In fact, I think it was the first one since we opened! So we went for a hike. More of a walk really. We went to the pond just up the trail from our house. We went up last year, almost exactly the same time (last year was the 12th and this year was the 14th) and took family pictures. It was beautiful.

June 12, 2011 
This year I was amazed at what an easier time I had. I had just had a baby last time I hiked it. That, and last year was a very wet year. There was water on the trail. Mud threatened our every step.

When we got to the pond we realized just how dry this winter has been. 

June 14, 2012 ~ After a dry winter 
As the kids ran off to investigate the mud Adventure Man and I looked at each other. Knowing the trouble a dry summer can bring after a drier winter. What every awe inspiring thunder store can leave behind on a mountain top like ours. Fire.

The mud puddle that used to be the pond. Makes me think of The Land Before Time! 

Rock Staking By Adventure Man
We headed back home. We all had a nice hike. We got lots of fun pictures.

Little Bear in my "piggy-back" backpack still has a cough and wanted a ride.
Lou Lou took the picture. 
And then my 4 year old announced, just before the house was in sight, that he had to go potty. As the rest hiked on, I told him the wonderful secret of how the bears do it. He was delighted! 


I Don't Want to Alarm You, But… There's Something Out There!

The dog stood on the back porch. He was barking. There was a hint of panic to it. Not the usual "please-let-me-in-now, I've-done-my-thing," kind of bark. He didn't take his eyes off the woods. I let him in and then fiddled with a pot on the porch. The dog, who was in the house at this point, came back out. He stood by me, and looked at the woods. I felt his consern. I felt his worry.  I decided to take his advice.  I didn't study the line of trees that come to an end at the edge of the yard. I didn't even wonder what could have showed it's self even for a moment, just a few feet from my boy's sandbox.  I went into the safety of my home and shut the danger out. And forgot about it. Or did I?

What is in the woods? Dorothy said it was "Lions, and tigers, and bears! Oh my!" But is it really? Ok, I have already proven to the world that we have black bears in the woods. And I've seen a young grizzly wonder down last spring. But we chased it off and I've not seen it from the house. The Staff may have seen them on their wildlife watches in the spotting scope. But I don't see as much as the rest of them.

We have a staff member who's position is a Naturalist. Our Naturalist or Nature Boy (or girl) as I like to call them, depending on who I'm talking about, take the guests on hikes and show them things. You know, the kind of things most people, like myself, would never know or see. Like bear claw marks on trees, or wolf scat.  They know the names of wildflowers and trees. Our Naturalist even knows which tree is called Mountain Lion Tree because it's where the cats like to sit and watch out for food to come walking up the trail. Yikes!

Evidently this tree is just up the trail. The trail that starts at my front yard. So Nature Boy put a camera in this tree. It's pretty cool because it's a motion sinser camera and it takes pictures at night. But would it be able to capture the image of what lurks just out of sight? Could it capture the image of a vampire, or a zombie? I'm thinking that's really what was out there. From reading we know that vampires live in the woods. And everything we read is true, right? ahem.

We all know there is a growing population of zombies. Have you noticed? I mean, there seem to be Zombie Walks all across the nation! And Zombie Runs! And in Florida somebody got their face eaten off. Really? Eating someone's face off? I think I'd notice that! If it's a zombie, that would be fairly easy to handle.  They're easily spotted, that would be why my deaf dog was able to sense it. You can kill them with a shovel. You don't even need a permit at all! Oh wait, apparently you do in Florida. But this is Montana. Everyone has a gun in Montana. In fact, I know most kids spend their free time shooting ground squirrels just for fun. That and if you don't keep on top of the ground squirrel population, they will over run you and create so many holes in the fields that your animals will be at risk of breaking a leg in them.

But I have never really seen a zombie here in Montana, so either I'm one of the lucky ones, or they just haven't gotten here… yet. No, I guess it's probably not a zombie. Or a vampire. But that might not be such a good thing. Why? What could be worst than a zombie? Well, back to what Dorothy was worried about. Back to that tree. That camera.

This is a picture from the camera from 2010
Just as soon as the camera was up and running it got footage of a mountain lion. But not just any mountain lion, no this one is pregnant! Ok, I have NO idea how they knew it was pregnant, I guess it's cool to wear tee shirts that say "Cubs on Board" out here in the woods. But since I don't really know enough about it, I'm just going to go with it.

There has been three incidences this spring where a wolf has been killed by a mountain lion. They know this because of the puncture wounds in the skull which is typical of the way these cats kill. I know this because I heard it on the radio. I really would like to question my sources about now.

There was a summer at the last ranch we lived at where we kept seeing cats. We finally got permission to relocate them with the help of Wildlife Fish and Game. That was a cattle ranch and the cats were on privet land. They had been seen stocking the cows. They were seen behind the employee housing. They had been seen around the resort's front desk area. It turned out that it was a family because we found the nest. Unfortunately this was a high risk situation and it didn't turn out as well as we planned. That's what happens when lions and people mix. It's just not good to have a neighbor who would like to eat you. I believe they only had to kill one but here is the account and photos from a friend who was working the front desk at the time.

During that time a very non-helpful person told me about an attack in Missoula where a lion came into a park on the outskirts of town and grabbed a nine year old boy by the head and ran off. (Maybe it was a five year old.) The father had run after the cat. I don't remember the end of the story, probably because I had my fingers in my ears and was shouting, "la la la la la!" to myself. Needless to say, I'm kind of freaked to let my kids out the door and out of my sight.

Mountain Lions are capable of attacking and killing animals as big as deer or elk. A small child in the woods that had always been so magical until now is nothing. I have to say given the choice of what could be in the woods, I'm really gonna have to go with zombies here, people.

~~ Credits ~~
Many thanks to Misty for many wonderful pictures of the Zombie infestation in Florida. To Anna for the picture of the dead Mountain Lion. To Jeff and Nikki from A Place for Embers, for the shot in the dark from the tree. And also to Google for more pictures of Mountain Lions. I hope I never get close enough to take a picture of one myself!


Falling Behind

I signed up to participate in the Jeff Goins' 15 habits of Great Writers challenge.  I want to practice   writing. I love writing but have had now schooling other than a few creative writing courses in college. 20 years ago. I signed up late, I don't get as much time to read as I want and didn't see Jeff's blog until Day 3. I signed up anyway. I haven't written much since. So much for that!

No I have been writing, but the proof reading of my own stuff has been few and therefor I haven't posted it. If you know me, you know I don't spell. Not can't, I just don't. It's been long proven, ages ago, that me and spelling are not friends. And that is why I proof and look up words just to be sure. And I still have mistakes! So feel free to mention them if you see them.

sick kids mean no sleep for anyone!
I have also had lots of sick kids. (This is my excuse column.) Myself included. The little kids had colds then got shots that week. We also hosted a church service project in which the congregation came to our house and helped cut dead trees from the woods behind our home. They then distribute them to people in the community who need wood for the next winter. We may be just starting summer and in the warmer months, but this is the north, and winter is coming!

Yesterday we had an orthodontist appointment for my Tween, this means a trip to Big Town. Today we have allergy shots for the nine year old… The New Tween. This means a trip to Little Town. So I'm off and running and the laundry is staring to over take the bedrooms and the hall. Snarling as it creeps!

But don't worry. I am writing. It's just at 2 in the morning! But my assignment on Day one was to declare myself a writer. And that I am and will remain. Thanks for hanging in here with me!


Bears in the Hood

This Picture is cropped. All the others are not.
We were close, but the camera got us closer. 
I've used lots of pictures of a certain little black bear who came to show off her wee ones last spring. I went for a walk with my kids just as summer was getting on its was. As we walked the road threw the property, past the guest houses, Adventure Man came running toward the house for his camera. He said there was a bear and two cubs on Alice's ridge. We back tracked to a spot where we might get a glimps of them from afar. But she had moved. We headed to the lodge for safety, but also so we might get a glimps of them. I wanted the kids to see them... From a good distance. But what we saw was much more then I hoped for.

They came across the road, the river and the yard. Then up into the woods. 

We ducked into the lodge, but Lola, our head cook was baking bread, and every new mama, who needs to build up her milk supply knows what "hungry as a bear" is all about! Mama bear wondered back down the hill and looked right in the dining room window!

Lola with me and the kids in the Lodge.

As you can see, when she got this close to the window
we moved the kids back from it! 

Adventure Man did scare them off with firecrackers. Only they are shot from a shotgun. They make a loud pop after they've been shot and so AM aimed them right at Mama Bear's feet. She would run, but the cubs would race up a tree, then she would have to come down and get the kids again. We do this so she doesn't become acclimated to us or our trash cans. And she needs to set an example for the cubs. She's a Mama now!

This was the shot that Adventure Man took from around the corner of the Lodge.
She is looking in the window at us, but we cropped the building out of the picture.

Although she was spotted here or there again last summer, she never ventured down into the valley.

But now Mama Bear has come back and the cubs have grown into lanky teenage looking one-year-olds! They stayed in the cover of the Aspen Grove, but they let Adventure Man get close enough to get some good shots, with a very long lens, that is!

This cub surprised Adventure Man. He could see the Mama and one cub, but didn't see this one until he started huffing at Mama. Mama was paying attention to the hikers coming down the trail, but when her cub called, she came. That was when Adventure Man left. He didn't mean to get that close. He is adventuresome, but not stupid! Mama showed no signs of agitation at his presince. She lives here and so do we and I'm sure she's seen us and others before. 

These were all taken by my Husband with his Nikon. The last three shots where when he was backing out of the woods. They are as curious about us as we are about them. But Always be careful, wear bear spray and leave nothing behind. Keep Montana Wild.