12/23/13

Change

Our roads sometimes turn in ways we do not see. Change can bring the snow after the wind has stripped the trees of their color. 


And sometimes change can bring the moving van. 

Yes that's right, we are moving on. To another resort where we will have more stories to tell. So stay tuned for some changes in 2014! 

But until then, I'm trying to keep the baby off the boxes! 


Heaven help me! She climbed up there herself! Yikes! 

This stack has grown. And our holiday d├ęcor has a different look about it than past years. 


Enjoy your simple moments, they are fleeting! And may you have a wonderful holiday season! 


12/3/13

In the Beginning - How I Got Started

I stood at the window, holding my sweet newborn baby. I studied these majestic mountains in my new back yard. So close I could walk right out the door and up into them, I would one day, hike these trails. But for now I knew. I knew this new home would be a home of healing. For all of us. 


Postpartum depression hit me just a day or two after Bunny, our youngest, was born. I remember standing in the hotel room with all my kids around me and just bursting into tears. I couldn't stop it. I couldn't hide it. The joy that I felt after each of my other kids was replaced with a sorrow as deep and as black as the ocean. 

*********

One of the most common questions in the blogosphere is, "why did you start your blog?"

This is a question I have avoided for the past two years. I've tried to write about it, but then I would decide I wasn't ready. For some reason, however, I keep coming back to it. Like it's just got to be out there for me to move on. On to big things that I'm really excited about. But, ok like, then there seems even more stuff that's got to be said to make even that stuff make since. 

(Ok, my California City Girl just came out big time in that last sentence.) 

But just as Charles Dickens relates in A Christmas Carol, “There is no doubt that Marley was dead. This must be distinctly understood, or nothing wonderful can come of the story I am going to relate.”

Except there really isn't all that much about my story that's wonderful. Well, not to me, anyway. 

There were many events that led up to the start of this blog. 

• First we were given a book. I will share the title of this book. But not today. 

The original owner of this Guest Ranch liked to write. And when she past away, the ranch managers found a box of her journals and stories. She read them, and then had some of them published into a book. 

We arrived here just over two and a half years ago. I read the book that was left for us, as a little history lesson, and felt my calling. I had to continue the stories. I had to continue to share the adventure, the beauty and wonder of this special place. 

But there was more. I needed to heal. 

• I had to find a way to fight Postpartum Depression. 

When we arrived here at the ranch, our youngest child was 21 days old. Moving is hard. Moving with small children is harder. Moving with a newborn is even harder. But that is not where this story began. 

Before we came here, my husband worked for another resort. He works hard, he is patient, he is likable. At this resort, we found that not all the people he worked with, or for, shared these qualities. My husband found that many of the upper management (of which he was a part) would get fired if certain people were unhappy with various outcomes. He found himself outlasting all of them. Still, as we saw people come and go, we realized that it really was just a matter of time before our number was up. 

Our number did come up. On October 31, 2010. I was five months pregnant. 

I handled it well. Oh sure, we cried. But emotionally I handled everything very well. Of course I wouldn't have if my amazing mother-in-law hadn't come and spent two months with us. She was an amazing packer! She moved faster than anyone I had ever seen, getting us boxed up and ready to go. Go where? We had no idea. 

We lived in employee housing on the property and HR had told us we could stay past the usual 30 days. In fact, as time ticked on, and baby got bigger, we were told we could stay until baby came. We had one more month to go. 

Then, certain people heard about it. Certain people said no. We had to go by the end of the week or we would be charged by the day. 

We went. With no offers in sight, we put our stuff in a storage unit and got a hotel room in town. 

I tend to deliver my babies quickly. I also go a week or two early. My doctor advised me not to leave town. 

The wonderful story of how this remarkable person came into this world is another story. And she deserves to have it all to herself. But job offers did come. And so did the baby. And with her came my PPD. 

It has been a scary thing. It's been hard on all of us. I am so sorry for the torment my family has gone through. I haven't been the mother I once was. I get angry faster. This results in me hating myself more. This left me with thoughts of suicide. This escalated to a plan. 

I am medicated now. Along with PPD, people with MS have a higher rate of depression than any other chronic illnesses.

But I'm doing much better. And so is my family. We've all grown. And this litte valley in the mountains has done just what I knew it would. It has given us a place to rest and recover. 

So now we can move on to greater things. 

11/12/13

Company Chicken ~ My Mama's Curry Chicken

This is my mom's recipe. She got it from one of her best friends. Now I make it, my sister-in-laws make it, my kids love it. It's actually one of the first non baby foods I fed all my kids. We have it about once a week. Plus, it's super easy.

But here's the secret: 

This is actually from a Campbell's soup recipe! My mom changed it up a bit to make it work for a larger group, cause she liked to serve this to company, as the name implies. So as I said, it's really easy, but not authentic Indian cuisine. Just really good.



3 to 4 chicken breasts (or, I use about 6 chicken tenders)
1  cup water
1 can cream of chicken soup
3/4 cup mayonaise
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons** curry

Steam the chicken on stovetop in the water. 

(You can steam frozen chicken without even deforesting it, so easy!)

Remove from heat. Set chicken on a cutting board to cool. 

Add soup, mayo, parmesan and curry to the pot of water with the heat off. 

Whisk together. Chop chicken. Add chicken to the soup mix and put on low heat to heat through. The cheese will melt and the sauce will thicken. If it's too thick add some more water. 

Serve over your favorite rice. 
Top with raisins, non sweetened coconut flakes and almonds. 
I also like green onions on top. It adds a little more heat. 

I tend to double this recipe because my kids will sometimes eat thirds or fourths. Plus it's great for lunch the next day.

**My mom's recipe calls for 2 teaspoons curry. I have NEVER used that little, even when first giving it to my babies. And I have to say, when I make this for my parents, my Dad always raves about it. I also love to used different kinds of curry. Red Curry is usually hotter. Try it all! Find what your family likes best!

11/8/13

Being Famous

When I was in high school I was really into the drama club. It was my life. I am a drama geek. A thespian. I was

The year after graduation I ran into an old classmate who actually said to me, that she thought I'd be a famous movie star by then. Really? Ha.

No, not me. I don't have the energy for that. I am not always in a good mood. I don't always look perfect. I don't want to always look perfect!


I see Hollywood families and feel sorry for them. I can imagine the Pitt-Jolie clan getting ready to leave there house. The pep talk to be on their best behavior. Keep smiling! You never know who's frown will make the cover of Star Magazine with the caption, "Clinically depressed, is her mother causing her heartache?" 


You ever give one of your kids a look to tell them to straighten up or their getting a wallop? You ever look in the mirror while making that face? Not so pretty are ya? Who needs that kind of stress!?

But this is starting to remind me of someone. 

Oh, yeah! Me! 

In the real world, when our kids are getting on each other's nerves, not to mention your nerves, you send them outside. Go get dirty, go swing, go climb a tree! What ever! Just get out of my hair! 


But we can't do that. When we emerge from our stuffy confides, we become either the spotlight, or the interrupters! You see, when I said we are raising our kids on a guest ranch, I meant it! 


Our beautiful home over looks most of the guest's accommodations. Several of them can see my kitchen door from their bathroom window. The horse hitching posts are straight out my living room. I love to watch them load up every morning. The trail starts at my driveway. We can wave them on as we eat breakfast at the kitchen table. Yeah, we're that close. 


We could also wave them on from our master bedroom. I could lay in bed and watch the guests ride by. (If I wanted to.) 

We have lots of beautiful views and big windows to take in those views. One of the first things we did when moved in was order window coverings! 

As amazing as this little valley is, and as great this excperiance is, I do sometimes feel bad for our kids when we want them to be on their best behavior. 



But I have to say, the guests do tell us all the time how well behaved our children are. 



And they really are great kids! If I do say so myself! 

10/30/13

Remembering All - All Saints Day - A Day I Will Never Forget

This is such a fun time of year!  Full of fun Halloween activities. I'm trying to get the pumpkins carved and snacks made for school parties. But I have been remembering a Halloween that meant more to me than all the candy and carved pumpkins combined. 

I was 19 years old and I had the opportunity to go on a trip the Paris with my college. It was a trip for the interior design department of which I was a part. 


In grade school I had a dear friend who was French and she was here while her parents worked. This of course was when I lived in Palo Alto, California. But anyway, we went to school together in kindergarten and first grade. We were best friends. Then she moved back to France and we were pen pals for many years. 

Because of this early association with France, it had always been on my bucket list. 


The trip was guided and included all the main attractions. The Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame Cathedral, the Louvre to name just a few. We also travelled out to the country to visit some Chateaux, and a few hunting cottage... If you could call it that. 


On our way back we made a stop that was not on the schedule. The guide saw the sign for the town of Oradour-sur-Glane and since we were passing buy, asked the driver to make a stop. This small village is now a memorial to those who lost their lives there during World War II. 
You may have studied the massacre in school. 


If I remember correctly, as it was exactly 20 years ago Friday, the Germans marching from Normandy were told that a German from another Battalion was captured and being held in Oradour-sur-Vayres. This group sealed of Oradour-sur-Glane, having confused it with the other village. You can guess the rest. The tour guide informed us that there were only 2 survivors, who had hid in the bell tower. 
I'm not sure if that is true. 



The women and children were locked in the church. The men were taken to a barn, and the town was looted and then burned to the ground. In all, 190 men, 247 women and 205 children were lost that day, in June of 1944. The original town has been left untouched.



As it was All Saints Day, there were lots of people there. The graveyard was full of flowers. No one was taking pictures. I couldn't not. Although my cheap camera was awful, these are some of my favorite photos. I edited them with Snapseed and now I love them even more. 



There was a cafe next to the church and the skeleton of the wire chairs and tables were still out front. 
In this home, there is still a sawing machine in the window sill. 


I studied the Holocaust extensively in high school, (a story for another post.) so this first hand experience touched me greatly. 

The US is very good at creating holiday traditions for children, whose dentists benefit more than anyone.  I am not against the usual traditions, but this year we are going to take a few moments to remember those we love who have gone before us.  


The traditional beliefs are that the veil is very thin around this time of year, Samhain is the name, pronounced sah-win or sow-in. It starts at sunset on October 31 and lasts until November 1, although it has been celebrated longer. Extra food was prepared for loved ones and seats were left for them at the table. Food was also buried, for those who didn't have loved ones to remember them. To ward off evil spirits, pumpkins and other gourds were carved. 

We have an Indian graveyard on our property. I told my children that we should take some apples to leave by the gate. They were thrilled.  And I am, in writing this post, sharing this day, that always makes me think of a small village in France.

10/27/13

A Day Out

This weekend was the last of it. The last of fall. Sunday night a storm blew in. We all knew it was coming. It's not supposed to let up until Tuesday. 

So Friday, Adventure Man and I took Bunny and the dog for one of the last hikes of the year. (I say "one" because Saturday he took the other three kids up on a hike too. By then Bunny had come down with the flu, so she and I stayed home.) 

Here are some fun shots and views we enjoyed. 

 
I really love it up here. There's a view around every corner! 


I shared my chocolate with her. Funny kid won't eat m&ms but she loves my Dove dark chocolate squares. I have this way of making my kids like fancy stuff! Darn it! 

It's fun going out with Adventure Man because he's such a great Dad! 


Can these two be any cuter!? I mean really! 


It's also fun hanging out with Advinture Man 'cause he likes to take pictures of me. Kind'a makes me feel special! 


I'm planning on sharing this one again, once I've lost my little belly. I know it's not much. I've lost a lot of weight since Bunny was born. But I've got about 10 more pounds to go. Still, for having four kids (and a puppy), I'm feeling pretty good.

Speaking of the puppy, she found an old bone piece and a shady spot. 


We were having fun. It was such a nice day! 


Now on to snow boots and wool caps! 

Happy Winter! 

10/25/13

Autumn Wind, a Cool Free App and a Secret


The wind was blowing leaves all over town today. I took this with my phone and edited it with one of my new favorite apps, Snapseed. 

It's so fun and free. And not like the "free" that you need to buy a whole lot of extras to get it to work right. The fun kind of free. Free free! Check it out! 

So here's my secret. I've run out of photo space on this blog. I actually ran out a long time ago. Like a year ago! I went to update my header and it wouldn't work. It said I had used up 99.9% of my space. This is what happens when people, like me, start a blog without any computer knowledge. 

So what have I done? I've used edit apps like Instagram to get my pics really small. I use mostly pictures taken with my phone. If not, I transfer them to my phone and they get really small. I don't even use the PC anymore. 

I also started my other blog. But I don't post there very much. Yet. You can find the link in my pages up at the top. But it's not about the ranch so it's not a replacement. 

I've thought about ending this blog and just moving on. But it's too much a part of me. I can't up and leave it. It's my story. At least for now. 

I may just have to buy more space. But I'm trying not to.  We'll see. 

In the mean time, here's another Snapseed edit for your viewing enjoyment. 


Happy weekend!  I'll be taking care of kids with the flu. 

10/17/13

See Ya!

The fall color doesn't last long. Last week I woke up to this...

 

And to this... 


It's awfully pretty. The snow was gone by mid day. But then the wind kicked up and now most of the color is gone. But I've grown accustom to the spooky witches forest. As I've come to call it. Very fitting. That's a graveyard up there beyond the fence, ya know.  


10/9/13

Northern Living

The north seemed to be having a party the other night. The colors were stunning. Made even better with the long exposure and mad camera skills of my Darling Adventure Man. 


The streaks of light would shoot up like spotlights. And the fade to green then red was ever in motion. Truly a sight worth staying up for! 


Rurality Blog Hop #8

10/8/13

A Big Sky Sunset

I know I've said it before, but there's a reason we call it Big Sky Country. 


Photo credit to Darling Adventure Man. 

Autumn Splendor and Some Family Time

We like to walk the Aspen Loop Trail that is right by our house each autumn when the colors have changed.


It's just a short little walk, hardly a hike, but it always takes us forever because we have to take hundreds of pictures. 


I actually only used my iPhone this time, because I had just added some great new camera apps that I wanted to try out. 


Adventure Man used the Nikon and the Olympus, which is the one I usually use. I'll share the new apps later this week.


We found lots of ladybuds and had to catch them and chase them through the wild rose bushes that were covered in red rose hips and thorns. 


The kids loved it. 


We got to see everyone having fun in the fresh air and enjoy the warmth of the day before winter is a permanent fixture in our little Montana valley. 


We got to have some together time without too much griping or arguing. 


We love to take in the view and climb the rocks at the end of the loop. 


One of my favorite blogs is written by Emily at The Anderson Crew Blog. She is the creator of Embrace The Camera and is sharing all week long. As someone who would rather take pictures than be taken in pictures, I have tried to make sure I was embracing the camera more often. So I'm sharing these shots with you today.  Her theme for today is memories. I hope my kids will have happy memories of our seasonal adventures!



Head over to Emily's place to find out more.