Grateful {Positive Vibes}

I know this may seem cliché, but so be it! I am so very grateful for so many things, but in the next few weeks I’d like to share with you what I am so very grateful for and why I strive for an “attitude of gratitude” every day.

To begin, I am so very thankful for the POSITIVE vibes – so to speak – that I see on my social media. And by extension, I am grateful that I can edit whom I follow so that I can keep my news feeds positive. I think everyone can agree that as humans we tend to lean towards the negative and bad news. Whether it is from hearing only about the terrible terrorist or the arrogant business man or the movie star who went off the deep end; finding the faults and negative in others’ lives….for what? Makes us feel better about ourselves?

Now, I’m not perfect, but I do feel like I avoid this fairly well. I really don’t feel like it’s worth reading about how terrible of a person someone is. I would much rather take the time to really LOOK and be able to read the success stories.

One of my favorite positive pages I follow is TobyMac, a Christian singer. I love the “memes” they post; most of them I save and make my wallpaper on my phone.

credit TobyMac Facebook page

They always seem to #SpeakLife (one of his songs) into my day! (Really crazy side note: that song just came on my Pandora as I’m typing this!)

While I feel like I am generally pretty positive – or at least try to be – this is one thing I struggle when I think or talk to myself. I know I’m not the only one. I am my toughest critic and I am very, very unforgiving to myself. Isn’t that they way it goes? If this applies to you, can we make a pact? Let’s make the conscious effort to “talk” positively to ourselves! What’s your favorite thing about YOU? Your BEST quality? Now, write the answers (yes, plural! There should be more than one!) on a few sticky notes and stick those to your bathroom mirror or somewhere that you will see them everyday. Fun little reminders about why you need to be grateful for YOU! Being positive doesn’t just apply to how you view the world, it needs to start within yourself. Can you imagine how much MORE positive vibes we could create when we become positive to/about ourselves?

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” ~Philippians 4:8-9


Shipping Calves 2016 Photo Story

We had a beautiful October morning to ship the Volf Ranch calves. Thanks to all of our help, everything went quickly and smoothly!

I decided a “photo story” would be a fun way to share the day!

















The land yields its harvest; God, our God, richly blesses us. ~ Psalm 67:6

Outdoors + Boys = A Great Adventure!

We went on our first camping trip as a family last week.

We’ve been “planning” to go camping for quite a while, but as all farm/ranch wives know these things are usually spur of the moment and 12 hours (or less!) of heads-up time to get things ready.

Anyways….as we’re getting ready for this big trip I’m making sure we have literally any possible item that the boys might want/need while we’re gone for 36 hours. Of course, we didn’t need half of it, but I was prepared for anything!

It was a blast! Was I tired, worn out, contemplating on putting Miles into a plastic bubble? Yes, but it was fun.

EJ loved every moment; from riding his bike everywhere – I don’t want to take it (helmet) off!; to “swimming” in the lake – splashing our feet and throwing rocks; to making s’mores -which he wouldn’t eat! He even did great on our hike – picking every dandelion within reach and trying his best to “blow” it out (he found that if he just throws it really hard they fall off and float away just the same!). DSCN0473
Miles did well, I think, for a one year old (yes, he’s one already – where did the time go?!) Besides wanting to touch the fire and walking right into the lake – socks, shoes and all, like there wasn’t even water there – and just being his ridiculously rambunctious self, he did good. He loved the water. Even with the wind blowing and the coolness of evening he didn’t want to leave. Then the next day when we went back and it was warmer he tried his hardest to “swim” but only was able to partially sit down before I swept him out, but he immediately wanted to go back in!DSCN0456
We definitely have two outdoor loving little boys! Bikes, dirt and Lord, knows whatever else they can get into, they would stay out all day, rain or shine, if they could!CrystalLake

I’m looking forward to many more camping trips in the future and to discovering what their wild imaginations will cook up. Like EJ racing up the hill on our hike and calling down “So tall Momma! Ima super hero!” Miles will be right behind him next time, trying to be faster and taller; seeing who can throw rocks the farthest into the lake. How long will they enjoy picking dandelions and try to blow the seeds off? Or have wonder at watching a deer walk through the campsite? While I do look forward to the day when we can enjoy camping as we used to, without worrying about one falling down and getting hurt or if/when nap time will be, I dread the day that they start to slowly lose their funny little imaginations and sense of wonder. I know they’ll have it for a while still and I pray that they will always of a sense of wonder for God’s creation, but for the sake of being able to watch how their little minds learn and play, I can live with a few more years of “uncomfortable” camping.

Children are a gift from the LORD; they are a reward from him. ~ Psalm 127:3

Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it. ~ Proverbs 22:6


I was schooled in a lesson of gratitude today….by my husband (shhhh don’t tell him!) Actually he doesn’t even know he did, until he reads this.

He was explaining an argument he’d had and how it’s frustrating always hearing about how “terrible” things are when in reality (and in nearly every situation) things may not look great, but “it could be worse.” He told them that complaining doesn’t do any good, ever, and it usually just makes things worse since your outlook on life will only be negative.

He said, “If you’re ungrateful for what you already have, why would God want to give you more or something better?”

Insert “hand slap to forehead” – well actually that didn’t happen to me until later when I saw this on Facebook:

credit to TobyMac Facebook page
credit to TobyMac Facebook page

See, I have been feeling a bit sorry for myself lately. I mean yes being a mom can be tough, right? But everyone has “those” days; you other moms know what I’m talking about – you’re so tired you don’t want to function which means NOTHING gets done, therefore you have a disaster of a house; then the baby needs to be constantly held…by only you; the toddler has a great “potty” day and the next he poops in the pull-up three times; dirty dishes everywhere, dirty clothes everywhere – same load of clothes in the washer has been washed three times in three days because I keep forgetting to be them in the dryer…..and so on and so forth. Oh, and on top of that you are trying to be healthy, but gosh that soda helps to wake me up and chips go great with soda and both kids are finally sleeping at the same time so I’ll enjoy these in front of the TV.

So I’ve been having pity parties and the cycle of “ungratefulness” begins. I’m tired and don’t want to do anything, leads to nothing getting done, leads to frustration that nothing gets done, leads to impatience with EVERYTHING, leads to a short temper, leads to “I’m a terrible mother,” leads to I can’t do anything right…..WOW.

What happened to my attitude of gratitude?

Being grateful my eyes opened this morning instead of dwelling on being tired. Grateful for a nice, sturdy home and its messiness showing a family that wants for nothing. Grateful for dirty dishes because we have food. Grateful for sweet baby cuddles because they won’t last forever. Grateful for a healthy toddler….with regular bowel movements? Haha you know where I’m going with that one….grateful for the good days! Grateful for a body that works, it maybe not be “in shape” (yet!) but I’m grateful that it can do what needs to be done and when I get that walk in I know how good I’ll feel afterwards.

So friends will you hold me accountable? Help me pursue an attitude of gratitude and to remember that it may be tough today, but oh the possibilities of a great day tomorrow all because of the gratitude I have for today!

Remembering Why

May has been a crazy, busy month for me and it is very fitting that it ends with Memorial Day/Weekend. This day and the reason we “celebrate” it is making me sit back and think about how incredibly blessed we all are. Let me start from the beginning….

I just completed and submitted a cookbook that I have been working on for a few months that is for my family’s reunion this summer.

The ranch I grew up on was settled 119 years ago. The Olson family’s last reunion was in 1997 to celebrate the ranch centennial and this summer we celebrate the centennial for the barn that was built in 1916. My grandpa is one of 16 brothers and sisters; as I was putting this cookbook together, I learned quite a bit about all of them. Out of the 16, only four are still alive today, but the reason I have more understanding and respect for this long holiday (yes, that’s sad to say) is after learning about the six who served in the Military.


John (1)


Roy (1)Three of them fought in World War II. I have three great-uncles, whom I’ve never met, but I have heard stories about, that fought so I can be free today. I don’t know why it hit me so hard as I was reading these, but it did. And the stories I’ve heard – mostly from my dad and grandpa – reflects the men they had become after the war; the brother who would jump at any loud noise is the story that always sticks out to me.

These men and women fought to protect people they didn’t know. I’m sure at the time they were thinking of their families, but did they understand the impact on the generations after them? It’s sad that many in these recent generations don’t understand – not the devastation at Pearl Harbor or the pure joy of V-Day. I know I don’t understand it, but I have a renewed respect for them. And for those who serve today – whether people choose to believe or not the soldiers today are fighting just as hard for our freedoms as the soldiers from 50, 60, 70 years ago. Why are so many against them? Why do so many lash out at them? Why have we lost our desire to show respect and gratitude?

It breaks my heart.

Veterans (and their families!), please forgive me for not showing you the gratitude and respect you have not only earned 100 times over but that you deserve to hear every day of your lives.

• “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” ~John 15:13 •

• And he said, “The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge; My Savior, Thou dost save me from violence. I call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised; And I am saved from my enemies.” ~2 Samuel 22:2-4 •


Custom – a group pattern of habitual activity usually transmitted from one generation to another.

That sounds really cult-like doesn’t it? “Habitual activity” – I would prefer “common activities taught throughout generations” or something like that.

What’s the point?

High School Graduation

10 years ago, when I graduated high school (yes, it’s been that long – what?!) I would have never thought that I would be a farmer’s wife back in Central Montana. I’m not exactly sure that I knew what I really would have said if you had asked the question “Where do you want to be in 10 years,” but I’m pretty positive that I wouldn’t have said where I am now.

But I am happy that what I thought might have been didn’t happen. The saying “You never know how good you have it until you miss it” was very true for me. I enjoyed going away for college, experiencing a different type of lifestyle – “big city” so to speak – but I missed home. I missed running through our small town for track practice and not having to worry about stopping for traffic (because there was none) and I missed going to basketball games with packed gyms and the pride of a small town that came to support those players even if they weren’t directly related to those participating.

Going for a ride

I missed being on the back of a horse behind lazy moving cows as they made their way to summer pastures, but then going after that one crazy one who thought she could beat us back to the gate.

And even though I don’t like to admit it, I missed spending time “bonding” with my brothers via walkie-talkies while sitting in a tractor.

But I think at the root of all of that, what I really missed were the customs I learned while living in Central Montana. The customs to supporting your community, work together, and family comes first – just to name a few. And now I am back to it, but the teacher is my husband and I believe he is thoroughly enjoying teaching me the lessons and customs that he grew up with.

While I grew up chasing cows on horses, he grew up zooming around them on a four wheeler or motor cycle. He grew up “farming” all spring and summer, while I was in the tractor for MAYBE a month in the two summers I helped my older brother with haying. Those are just two of many different customs that I looked forward to learning when our relationship began.

Just a Farmer and his Son
Just a Farmer and his Son

While I am no where near finished learning these new customs (I’m pretty sure I’ll be getting lessons for a while and probably from my oldest son at some point I have a feeling!), I am learning to enjoy these lessons. However, my favorite Central Montana custom and the one I am most looking forward to teaching to the next generation is the importance of having a good, hard work ethic in everything we do. I know that this custom is sacred to all those who love this area as much as I do.

Thank you God for helping me to realize my love of Central Montana and all of the difference customs that are learned while living here – I can’t wait to see what new customs we come up with to teach to our family!

Calving + Kids = …

So I’m working at my “attitude of gratitude” and as I’m thinking about writing this post I don’t want to be negative or ungrateful (obviously), but I am trying to portray what calving entails and how it does affect the whole household. (which may end up making me sounds selfish, but I’ll take that risk.)

Photo Credit: Evan Volf as he’s walking out to check before dawn!

I sometimes forget how much I should be appreciating the fact that my husband is a morning person. Our oldest son – and seems the youngest is right on track – is a morning person. If EJ sleeps until 6 we’re checking on him to make sure he’s not sick. So when calving season starts and we have a baby who doesn’t sleep through the night and a toddler who gets up early (and is ready to start his day) I am reminded how awesome it is to have a man who doesn’t mind the wee hours. Because, instead of him being up with these two and being gracious in giving me a few more minutes of sleep, he’s been in the barn finishing his “shift” – usually over by 5 am (ish) – and I’m doing all I can to keep my eyes open to make sure my boys aren’t hurting themselves (YAY for Netflix!).

The calving shed headquarters. Photo Credit: Evan Volf

And there have been nights/mornings when he’s gotten as little sleep as I have, whether it’s due to a new baby calf, an uncomfortable couch/cot in the barn, or just the inability to fall back to sleep during any down time. But he still comes in and usually is put right back to work getting the toddler breakfast or breaking up a “fight” (aka making sure EJ shares his toys!) instead of closing his eyes for a few minutes before his day “officially” begins outside, again.

Taking care of babies! Photo Credit: Evan Volf

Obviously, not every morning is like this and I know that there are parents who really don’t get any sleep with young kids and I know that there is always someone worse off, so this post is not about me complaining; I want to thank my wonderful, morning person husband for keeping me sane and Thank God that calving season is almost over (and for all the healthy “baby calvies”)!

“So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” ~ Matthew 19:6
Not even lack of sleep!