Joy in the Season

What a better way to use my blog than to write our “Christmas letter?!”

2018 started off with getting the last minute details done before baby Dexter joined our crew – March 23 – and ever since then we’ve been going full steam ahead in this chaotic, yet wonderful life of ours.

As everyone knows, last winter was a hard one and seemed to last overly long and in our case, here in the foothills of the Snowies, it was twice as long. What does that mean for us? Wet ground pushes seeding back, which pushes harvest back, but lots of moisture also means lush hay ground which means LOTS of hay. Yes, that’s a good thing and with all good things comes lots of work (however, that comes with not-so-good things, too). When the harvest is pushed back (partly due to a mild summer and not enough heat for things to grow) fall seeding gets pushed back. On top of those events being pushed back are the other odd need-to-do projects that would normally get done in lulls, but those lulls were filled up with the already pushed back items.

Good grief…the crazy circle of life on the farm! We are blessed to have had good crops all around despite the ever unpredictable Montana weather.

On to the family (which is why you’re here anyway!)

Baby boy #3 has made our family complete! It’s truly amazing how I could feel so overwhelmed and unsure about our new addition, but now that he’s here (nearly 9 months!) I can’t imagine life without him! I would most likely be getting more sleep and wouldn’t need to be chasing after his still somewhat sluggish crawling towards the stairs and trying to figure out the nap schedule BUT I am enjoying his sweet smiles and cuddles and these few months of momma boy snuggles (before he decides dad is more fun).

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2018 Polar Express bound!

Mr. Miles is rowdy and rambunctious as ever! He does have his sweet moments and watching him bond with Dex has been so fun, too. He loves to color and draw (those few quiet moments he enjoys) and he misses his big brother while he’s at school. I know if he could spend all day, every day with his daddy he would in a heartbeat. He has grown so much these last few months between not being the baby anymore and being the oldest while EJ is in school. He will be keeping us on our toes, but I wouldn’t want him any other way!

Big Brother EJ has had a very busy year and as his dad likes to remind me, “We’re only getting started!” He wasn’t entirely sure about having another brother (he really wanted a baby sister and keeps reminding me…silly boy!) but he loves Baby Dex and Dexter loves him, too. He played tee-ball over the summer and then had a couple of months of soccer this fall. About two days after soccer was over he asked when he could start playing basketball. Of course, we are thrilled with his love of sports and can’t wait to see where it leads him. Another fun thing to watch has been how his coordination has developed since starting school and spending time with older kids. He has pre-school three days a week for half the day. He has blossomed and grown so much these last few months and I am still amazed every time he comes home talking about something else that he’s learned.

Last spring was busy for Evan; between trying to stay caught up through the wet spring and getting everything ready for the big reunion, he’s been busy as ever since we moved 5 years ago. It’s been a joy for me to watch him teach EJ about sports and working with him even after a long day of the hard work it takes to keep things running smoothly. He is the boys’ favorite person/toy and I couldn’t be more blessed to have such a wonderful role model for them to look up to. This fall/winter he has been co-teaching the Financial Peace (Dave Ramsey) class at our church and will start reffing varsity basketball this season, too.

That just leaves me!

Everyone asks “How is life with three boys?” Loud…dirty…chaotic…but also, lots of random loves…lessons in laughing at myself…and being surrounded by handsome men my entire life! *wink*wink* All in all, any kind of motherhood is exhausting, but would we really want anything else? Some days, yes, but most days the out-of-the-blue “love you momma” and kisses and hugs make it all better and worth it. I do have a few ways to break up the frustrations of mom life; leading the kids’ church on Wednesday nights is a wonderful way to get out of the house and visit our awesome church family, but also gives me something to “work” on outside of mothering three boys. There are nights that can be total chaos, but they are a great group of kids and I’m grateful I can serve in this way. Winter time also brings about women’s league volleyball and gathering together with my amazing friends is definitely a highlight for me and worth the long drive and late nights. These times away from my kiddos – even just a few hours – helps me to realize what an honor it is to be their momma.

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Most recent family photo – EJ’s Christmas Concert

We’re looking forward to 2019 and all the adventure and memories it will bring.

I pray the new year brings blessings to you and any challenges can be viewed for the opportunity that God often molds them into (something I need to remember more often than not!).

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. ~Romans 15:13

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{Time}…Where has it gone?!

I can’t believe it’s been so long since I’ve written! I remember thinking that I needed to write last winter before baby Dex was born, but apparently, I completely spaced actually following through with that thought. {insert forehead slap here}

Well, I only have eight months to catch you up on…let’s dive in!

We welcomed our sweet baby Dex the end of March and we have been thoroughly enjoying him these past 6 months. After a rough couple of months – oh hey, infancy stage – he has become so sweet and happy. And I have come to understand why the youngest is the “spoiled” one. We do just about anything to keep him happy while we’re trying to keep track of the other two! I also remember having such a great set routine with EJ and while we have somewhat of a routine with Dex, we are forced to be flexible due to all of the activities that we have going on already. “We’ll just figure it out” has become my new motto.

After a wild summer with a family reunion {nice having all our projects getting done! *wink*}; a wonderful haying season due to some wonderful moisture that kept the fires at bay; our first sports activity was completed with EJ’s first tee-ball season in June and now we’re onto soccer! And the most exciting has been EJ starting pre-school. Well, exciting for him – Miles wasn’t too thrilled with that change and he’s still trying to figure out how to get on without his brother, but he’s working on it. I have had to remind myself to extend more patience to him as he’s trying to learn how to play by himself. And when he comes to me every 15 minutes or so, I work on enjoying his company instead of becoming exasperated by it. A huge work in progress, to be sure, but one I’m hoping to embrace more as the year goes on.

While everyone has appreciated a “wetter” summer than last summer, there have been a few disadvantages. Some of our wheat crops haven’t ripened yet, which pushes everything back…and back…and back; the feeling of being pushed past the normal timeline is always a bit unnerving, but the guys always get things to work out for the best. From harvest to seeding, to shipping calves, to working cows and then hopefully a few weeks of respite before winter settles in – which really only means working on the projects that they haven’t had time for –  there’s never a dull moment!

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Or never a “still” moment.

I have come to cherish any “still” moment I can find. Sometimes housework gets brushed off, sometimes laundry doesn’t get done {or we dig through the clean stuff that isn’t folded yet}, sometimes the dishes don’t get clean before I fall into bed, but I’ve decided that if I can just sit still for 10 minutes while everyone else is sleeping than I will choose that moment and not let myself feel bad about it.

Back to our update…we are all well here at the Volf Ranch. Work is hardly ever ceasing, unless we let it for a few moments to enjoy together every now and then; boy #3 simply means more laundry and eventually more food {give him another 4 or 5 months!} and probably more bumps and bruises this momma cares to count; and while we may feel like time is flying by, it’s teaching us to more fully enjoy and cherish the moments we make along the way {especially the ones we don’t even realize we’re making!}. Those moments may be fleeting to us, but…

“With the Lord, a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead, he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”     ~ 2 Peter 3:8-9

Family {Time}

We like to take the boys on a mini “getaway” before we start calving because as most ranchers know once calving season starts there’s not a whole lot of opportunities to get away.

And since we also farm, once March and April roll around my husband and father-in-law are racing to get their planting done and by that time we’ll have Mr. #3 here, too!

So last week we took a few days to spoil our sheltered boys with two nights in a hotel along with a movie at the theater and a day filled with lots of fun activities! Most of these activities were overseen by the world’s best daddy; with me being 30 weeks pregnant I wasn’t able to take part in all of the fun. But I did get plenty of pictures taken!

These two boys adore their daddy and I’m so very grateful that he is able to – and makes the effort to – take the time to do these things with them. When we first started discussing us moving back my biggest worry was that he would get caught up in work and wouldn’t make the time to be with his family. That hasn’t been the case and I often need to remind myself of how much more time we get with him than if he was working a “normal” job.

There are days when we don’t see him all day, but then there are the days when the boys get to spend most of their time with him; yes, I do appreciate those days for the quiet house but more than that I appreciate those days because I know they are having the best possible experience “working” with daddy.

And it hit me, while I was sitting watching him swim with them, that it would all be different next year and I originally wondered how we’d handle three boys at a water park and then I remembered…well they’ll all be a year older, silly momma! EJ already almost has the confidence to swim alone (with a floaty) and I’m sure Miles won’t be far behind. Mr. #3 will be nearly 1 year old and I sat there wondering what this photo will look like.

 

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Swimming at Reef Water Park 2017

 

It made me a little sad – as we always say, it goes by too fast! But it also made me so grateful that this wonderful man makes sure he takes time with each of our boys and I know he will continue to do so. Even though there are times when I give him a hard time and I forget how much time he does get to spend with them, I know he will always try his hardest to make sure he makes time to wrestle and play and eventually, to shoot hoops, to teach driving and sharing his knowledge (even the questionable stuff *wink*). And these will be the things they remember – a dad they can look up to and learn from, who is fun and understanding, and who will try his hardest to make time to spend with them.

Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. ~Proverbs 22:6

 

One Word

2017 has been…busy.

I feel like each year goes by faster and faster. Is that an adult thing? I mean I know time can’t be lengthened or shortened, but, my goodness, it sure feels like the years go by faster.

Yes, I mean year. There are days that drag by, which doesn’t make much sense, but even with slow days, a month goes by and I can’t seem to believe that we’re onto the next month so quickly.

This year has been much the same as any year on the Volf Ranch. Except for maybe the ridiculously dry summer and constant threat and worry of fires. That is sometimes a concern, but not like this year.

The upheaval and craziness that comes with a move wasn’t a new experience, but the switching of houses at the same time – two sets of everything being moved on the same weekend – was a very interesting adventure. We are very grateful for our extended family that so willing helped; I’ve found that time is a gift that is not easily given, but usually the most appreciated.

The news of baby #3 due in March was probably our most surprising and slightly overwhelming headline of the year. It took me a while to remember and realize the excitement of a new baby. Ever since we found out #3 is another little man, I’ve found myself both looking forward to and cringing at the amount of noise that will be echoing through the house. I am extremely excited to meet our new little one and am so very honored to be a boy mom.

I was asked to head up and lead a new ministry at our church. I have thoroughly enjoyed leading our Wednesday night kid’s church program. It has been so rewarding. I’ve learned to better manage my time, but also that “winging it” is OK. I mean they’re kids, right? They don’t know whether or not we’re right on the script and I love that! I’ve been so grateful for the ladies that help me and am looking forward to only strengthen those new friendships.

Evan has been busy as ever working with his dad and doing projects, both around the ranch and in the house. I’ve appreciated his patience with me when trying to decide where to hang things and move furniture. We are anxiously trying to prepare ourselves for the Volf family reunion in June. While we are excited to have family here visiting, the list of projects seems longer than the time – when subtracted from the usual and necessary ranch/farming jobs – we have to complete them. He has also added basketball referee to his list of jobs this winter. Calving will be starting before we know it and then the sleepless nights that come with an infant shortly after, so if we both seem a bit delirious at times you’ll know why!

I’m sure there are other “major happenings” that have occurred over the last 12 months, but I find my brain is not wanting to remember all of them.

The one thing that I seem to be constantly lacking through all of these events, over this past year is time. Whether I’m feeling rushed getting everyone ready for something or wishing a project could get done or the time that equates to lack of patience with my boys – time always seems to be in short supply. We’re constantly hounded with all of these things we should do and get done and accomplish and always in a certain time frame. I keep thinking of what we might be missing if we didn’t slow down and do a double take on where our time is being spent.

I, selfishly sometimes, say I need more “me time.” I do know that this is an important time, but I’ve also realized that there’s going to come a time where that may be the only time I have. I regularly hear “enjoy this stage” “enjoy it while they’re little” and so on. As I listen to my oldest talk about wanting to go to school, it’s starting to sink in that I really need to be enjoying my TIME with him now. And even though our soon-to-be middle child can drive me mad with his….energy…I have come to cherish the moments that he will “sit you” and cuddle up in the spot between me and the arm of the couch. While I don’t always appreciate the amazing aspects of growing a baby I have loved watching my boys (mostly EJ) loving on our baby. Seeing through his eyes the feel of baby brother moving and kicking I find myself savoring the activeness of our new little man.

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What to do with these new revelations?

Instead of setting a New Year’s Resolution – which I haven’t actually set one of those in quite a few years – I’m choosing one word to focus on. Any guesses?

Yep…TIME.

And all aspects of that. Not just MAKING time, but ENJOYING time with my kids, GIVING my time without expectations, ACCEPTING time when given. Not hoarding my time for myself, not using time as an excuse.

Maybe this is a little broad. I mean time is a big thing, right? There’s a lot that can be put into these categories. My hope is that I can focus on this one word and how it applies to my life. How I can properly manage my time, but also remembering who needs my time and how they need it.

This may not be quite as simple as some resolutions and I know there will be times that I feel like I’ve made no progress; I’ll want to be selfish with my time and keep it for myself. I hope I’ll learn how to see when I’ve kept too much time for me and not given more to those who need it most.

I want to thank those that are taking the time to read this (*wink*wink*) and maybe you can think of a word that you can focus on this new year instead of making a list of resolutions that have a 50/50 chance of getting accomplished.

Blessings to you in 2018!

So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. ~Ephesians 5:15-17

 

Small Towns, Big Community!

When we first moved back to Central Montana, I was a little unsure of whether or not I was ready to “live in the middle of nowhere,” but after being here for 4 years and having the opportunity to get involved in some different areas has reminded me why it’s a blessing to live in the Central Montana community.

I think something really special about our community, is how all these small towns come together for different reasons year round. Also, how even though we may “compete” against each other with sports and 4-H and other club activities, when someone needs our help we all unite to help out.

Tough Enough to Wear Pink, Relay For Life, Festival of Trees, Bright Country Nights, Chokecherry Jam, Lewistown Downtown Assoc., and countless others that hold numerous benefits and fundraisers for different ways to support all of the communities in the area.

I have been able to work with the people who organize and put on the Bright Country Nights light show. This “show” – filled with handmade light displays by families and businesses in the Central Montana area – raises money that will help with maintenance and improvements around the fairgrounds. The Central Montana Fairgrounds hosts many events throughout the year and this is one way we can give back a little!

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photo credit Jennifer Saunders, Old Horse Barn, Central Montana Fairgrounds.

I have enjoyed helping with this cause. Not only in the weeks before the show by updating Facebook and submitting informational articles to the local newspaper, but by also “manning” the gate for one night during the weekend long show. Although it was a cold experience, we (thanks hubby for “volunteering!”) had fun hearing how everyone enjoyed each display and what the favorites were! While this event is free we take any free will offerings, which will then go towards the maintenance and improvements of the fairgrounds.

This year we are very excited to announce that we will be offering hayrides on the last evening of the light show with hot chocolate and s’mores available before and after the ride! Just a little extra fun for making memories while out and about with your family!

Remember, all of this is free and our community members are willingly donating their time, efforts, equipment and handiwork for the benefit of raising funds for our local “events center.” Isn’t that what community is all about? Helping each other out and using our resources and talents to aid those that need it knowing that if we ever need their help in the future they will gladly do the same for us? And how amazing is it that we have one large community that includes all of these small towns who may “compete” as all small towns do, but when it matters most they will unite to help each other out.

Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. ~1 Peter 3:8

Trust Test

So I am the Kids church leader on Wednesday nights; 10-20 kids, Pre-K – 6th grade. It’s definitely “controlled chaos,” but we have a good time (I think!) and I have two awesome ladies helping me out, so it’s a good experience.

The memory verse for this month is Luke 16:10a:

“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much.”

After having a couple of crazy weeks and plenty of needless worry, about a week ago this verse took on a new meaning for me.

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Technically, it means that same thing, but when I applied it to myself instead of trying to help the kids understand it, I realized that all that’s been going on is not new to God and – NEWS FLASH – He knows I can already do it! I am the only one who thinks I can’t do it.

Now, please don’t take this as arrogance either tho. I have TONS of help. A great family who supports me and helps with the boys when I need and, like I said, an amazing Kids’ Ministry team who helps me keep the chaos somewhat controlled.

What I’ve realized is I need to be grateful for these opportunities I have: helping kids grow in their relationships with Christ; showing my gratitude to those who lovingly help out; loving on two little boys that win me over after every “fight.”

It never occurred to me that God TRUSTS me with these “things.” While I don’t always say the right things or I lose my temper or get frustrated too easily or let myself get stressed out before asking for help, He still trusts me to be a good wife, mother, and leader.

WOW!

So if God, the creator of everything, trusts me, why can’t I trust myself?

Trust, n: firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something.

All Things Fall

I love fall. And I am so very ready for it to be here. After weird, not-very-spring-like weather and then out of nowhere 90+ degree weather; fires and more fires and no rain, I am so very ready for fall. Brisk mornings, warm afternoons and cool evenings make for wonderful days. Along with that is the fun of having a bountiful garden and finding new recipes to use our wonderful veggies!

Fall baking is kind of my therapy sometimes. With it’s warm spices and cozy aromas, for some reason it helps me to refocus and remember to soak up all I have to be grateful for; a wonderful home filled with laughter (and yes, sometime screaming) and always full of love. Family close by to share and make memories with. Amazing friends that keep me sane! Above all, a God that doesn’t and will never give up on me!

So, in honor of fall and all it means to me, I want to share a few of my most favorite recipes with you all!

First up….

Pumpkin Zucchini Bread – this bread is literally ALL THINGS FALL! Yummy spices, with two perfect fall veggies; this bread is what I thing fall would taste like!

Pumpkin Zucchini Bread

YUM! Seriously, super moist and perfect, served warm with butter! Breakfast, snack, dessert – it’s great all day long!

With our new addition coming in the spring, I have a feeling I will be doing some major fall/holiday baking and I’m hoping to join the “be prepared with frozen meals stocked up” club; I will share what I find along the way!

Stay tuned for more yummy fall recipes this month!

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord. “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” ~ Jeremiah 29:11