#22 (yep, I skipped a few) of 30 - ok, I am starting to lose steam on this 30 days of thankfulness, so this will be my last post. I could post about so many things such as my chickens who lay the eggs we eat, our outdoor cats who have NEVER allowed a mouse in our house, food in general since I love it so much (Paul knows that from the minute I wake up I am thinking about what I get to eat today), my heritage, my contacts that help me see, my garden which provided us with the carrots and onions in my wild turkey and noodle soup I have in the slow cooker today, etc...I have had fun thinking upon all that I am blessed with and now I am moving on...
So anyway, on to today's last thankfulness post, above is a picture I took on Saturday afternoon while Skyler and I were on stand together. You can see Skyler is reading her book while her rifle lays on my lap waiting for an unsuspecting deer to walk by. So I am thankful for the countless pages Skyler was able to read to help her pass the time when the timber was movin' a little slow. But in between those pages Skyler was able to take in many sights that so many children today will never expeience. Those pages helped her to sit for approximately 17 hours this weekend and she was able to see countless deer, squirrels, turkeys and birds for her patience. And although we weren't able to get a deer to come close enough and stop where she had a clear shot -- we know that each hour in the timber she is growing and learning what hunting is all about -- and that is that hunting most of the time isn't actually "hunting" at all. Hunting to us is learning how the deer move, to watch the little signals they give which allow us to know when they are calm, when they are nervous, when they will continue to feed or when they are tricking you into thinking they are feeding but they are actually about to snap their head up to try to catch a hint of movement. We learn the signals they give which indicate they are not alone and it might be worth waiting for a buck to come sneaking up behind them. We get to hear the way they communicate, anything from a stomp of the foot which sends vibrations of trouble through the ground, to a contented soft grunt which sounds more like a purr, to the flicking of their tails which on this occasion might be the "it's all okay sign" but a bit different flick signals that "something is not as it should be here and we have got to go." To have the deer so close to you that you can hear them breathe and you worry that they will be able to hear your heart pounding from the adrenaline rush that closeness brings. To the contentedness you feel when you are able to see a deer, allow it to come into range, know that a shot would have been easy but allow the deer to walk because today just wasn't it's day to die. These are all things that cannot be learned from hunting videos or from hearing other's stories -- they are something that must be experienced and we are so fortunate that Skyler loves to experience all of those things with us. So I'm thankful for Skyler's books, but on a deeper level I am really just thankful for what those pages in the books allow us to let Skyler experience -- and that is a good life :)
This weekend was shotgun season. During this season we get to take our flintlocks out to the timber. I was able to make my one shot count on this 9 point buck by pulling off a tough, quick shot behind me at about 70 yards. For those of you familiar with a flintlock, the charge in the pan needs to ignite so that its heat can set off the main charge in the barrell. Because I was in a tight spot my mitten was too close to the charge in the pan and when I shot it actually started my mitten on fire!! I now have a hole clean through my favorite pair of mittens, but it was worth it! Paul always keeps track of our stats and apparently this is a landmark deer for me -- my 25th deer of my life. So now I am on the road to 50...
I had a great time on stand with Skyler at different times during the weekend as Paul and I traded off putting our rifles down and sitting with her. Skyler loves to watch the Nuthatches and all of the antics of the local squirrel population. After hearing them bounce around in the leaves for hours Skyler decided someone needs to invent a "squirrel bomb" to kill all of the squirrels so that we will be able to hear the deer coming easier. I think I agree with her :)
And finally Sunday afternoon Paul and I got to just hang out in a stand together. It was one of our first opportunities to be alone the entire weekend and we had a great time watching deer and getting to reminisce about this weekend's happenings. We always get to laugh a lot while we are jammed into this 2-person stand which is actually a better fit for one. Good thing both of us are on the slim side -- I can't imagine being any bigger and fitting us up there. Paul, I am still pretty sure you weren't scooted all the way to your edge... :) We had deer we could have shot but we were both just happy to get to watch the deer. All but one of the deer we saw were actually calm and acting like deer when they came through which is uncommon this time of year. Since both of us seem to enjoy "watching" and enjoying the deer more than just the shooting part that topped off my weekend and made it absolutely perfect.
#19 of 30 - Today I am thankful for our deerstands (I was gonna take a picture when I was out hunting Thursday morning but my batteries were dead on the camera, so I have attached a picture that is similar to what we have) -- the little perch in the air we spend so much time sitting upon this time of year. Although they aren't too comfy or warm and for this girl with a fear of heights they aren't close enough to the ground and although these perches are sometimes all too exposed to all of the weather most people stay inside because of (heat in the early season, wind, rain, snow, hail) -- they are always the grandest seat in the house. From this perch we get to see things that many have to watch a Marty Stouffer special to see. It is kind of like getting to be a "fly on the wall" and each scene that plays out is special. Even on those days when no deer appear, we get to see countless numbers of birds up close and personal. I have even had birds land on me as I sit motionless to watch them. We get to watch squirrels and their antics as they perform their tight wire acts many tens of feet above ground or as they peer around tree trunks trying to figure out why we are sitting on their "highway." We get to see the occasional coyote (yep, I still need to shoot one of those wily guys). We get to see turkeys (usually more than I want to see) as they scream and scratch their way through my quiet spot in the timber.
From this seat we get to reminisce on past hunts, happy times and fond memories. We also get to dream of deer yet to come -- possibly just down the ridge from us now. From this perch we get to slow down -- we get to step back and time has no meaning. From this seat the real hunting happens -- the passionate, I don't want to leave the timber until the last streak of light has left the sky hunting. For those of you who know that EVERY day is deer season because it doesn't only happen during those 7 days a year that many people scamper out or even during these 3 1/2 months dedicated to bow hunting -- For those of you who spill the blood, sweat and tears that our family does -- you know this seat is worth more than its weight in gold! So yep, I am more thankful for this seat than even I knew :)
#18 of out 30 - Today I am so thankful for Skyler's determination and abilities. Specifically how well she does in school and how much effort she puts forth to get the great grades she gets. Skyler has an ability to take in and learn so much information in a day it is mind boggling to me. Skyler's most current report card contained straight A's again -- and we don't even push for that. The only thing we have ever asked Skyler is that she puts forth 100% -- if that meant that she could only pull a C-, well we would be just as proud. So I am thankful for Skyler's efforts and abilities with regard to her school work -- keep up the great work Sweet Pea!
#17 out of 30 - I love the nostalgia of thoughts of living in the "old days" more than most girls...however, when I am being honest with myself, I am thankful for many of today's modern conveniences. Because of these modern conveniences it allows me more free time to do things I choose to do rather than just things I HAVE to do. The fact that we have indoor plumbing, a washing machine, dishwasher, microwave, cell phone and automobiles saves us countless hours each week. One of my favorite conveniences is my slow cooker. If it weren't for this camo cutie (cookin' Venison Vegetable Barley Soup this day) -- our supper routine would be a lot tougher for this girl who loves to hunt most nights and isn't really into "woman's work." So today I guess I have to be thankful for living in a day where we have access to such conveniences.
#16 of 30 - Today I am thankful for my messy house. This may sound weird but I guess my messy house is a reminder to me that we are living life. A few dishes in the sink says we had a good meal but had to run -- some laundry in the laundry basket says that we did something, got dirty, got cleaned up and had to run again. The fact that we have camo coats hanging on the back of the chairs in our dining room says that we were hunting, came home for a few hours, and are going hunting again...so I would rather have a messy house than a clean one (unless of course someone else wants to clean it) :)
#15 of 30 - On this Monday I am thankful for my job. I happen to work in a relatively small office and consider all of my co-workers my friends as well. I have a great boss who is kind enough to let me go home early whenever Skyler has an event at school or whenever she will be getting home early. I am one of those lucky few who can say I love what I do and enjoy going there each and every day!
#14 of 30 - On this Sunday -- the last day of another weekend -- I am thankful for the gift of time. Each minute is precious. I try to get up early each day so as not to waste any daylight...Another morning in the deerstand today got me up at 4 a.m. again this morning. Since more nights than not we have people in our garage either to visit or whom we help butcher their deer; add to that the countless hours we ourselves spend in deer stands this time of year; not to mention butchering our own deer; trying to spend quality time with Skyler playing catch, playing board games, shooting bows, shooting rifles, walking/running, baking, reading, etc.; trying to keep up with housework, cooking, etc...and still have a bit of life outside all of that (plus we gotta go to work, take in nourishment and throw a couple hours of sleep in there somewhere each night) and WHEW...I am thankful that we have 24 hours in a day -- I would wish for more, but I think 24 is enough! :)
#13 - I am thankful for family traditions. I can't say we have a lot of them, but after practicing with our rifles all year long -- it is a tradition for our family to go out one last time approximately a week before season (which is now) just to be sure we are all ready. Below is a picture of all three of our shots (9 total) -- I would say we are all ready for a deer to fill our sights -- what a fun family tradition! :)
#12 - Today I am thankful for our dog Shadow. He has been having a really rough time for about a week -- he has a bulging disc in his neck (could it be because of the constant love and hugs of affection from a 10 year old...?!? :) just kidding). Anyway - I am thankful that Shadow has been such a good buddy for Skyler. He sleeps with her, plays with her and protects her (if I chase Skyler through the house during a game of tag I can be guaranteed I will have a dog nipping at my backside). Shadow has generally been Skyler's "shadow" since the day we got him. I think every little girl should have a dog as great as Shadow to grow up with. And here's hoping that he will be able to heal and continue to be Skyler's buddy for many years to come.
#11 - On this Veteran's Day, I thought it only appropriate that I post about how very thankful I am for all of our veterans. Many people have family members who either serve or have served this great country of ours. I happen to have a grandfather, uncle and brother who all served. Seeing my brother serve gave me a front seat to the sacrifices soldiers make every day -- uprooting their families, leaving their families for months at a time, missing out on something as simple as a hug from their child or as monumental as the birth of a child as well as spending many Christmas times away from loved ones. Whether or not you agree with why our military is placed where they are, fighting or policing a territory -- you have to stand up and respect the men and women who are doing their best to keep our country safe and free...otherwise, as far as I'm concerned you are free to go find a country who you might like a bit better...cuz someone like that certainly doesn't belong here.
Today I am thankful for all of the hunting opportunities our family has. So much of our hunting is dependent upon the generosity of landowners allowing us onto their property. Because of one such generous landowner, I was able to shoot this buck last Friday morning. This summer I decided it was time to upgrade my bow from a Martin to a Mathews so this is my first deer using my new Mathews Passion bow.
#9 - I am very thankful that I grew up in a family and with parents who didn't indulge me. We never had a lot, but we had enough. Although we didn't go on fancy vacations, once a year we would drive up to northern Minnesota where I was born, to visit my grandparents and aunts and uncles. All those nights spent sleeping on grandma's floor are nights I wouldn't trade for the best Disney trip ever. And the nights spent camping along the way were always so much fun! And although I never had or wore the latest fashions, I learned to make do with what I did have. Although I never had a Cabbage Patch Doll (not that I didn't want one -- since all my friends in grade school seemed to have several), I had my cat named Snickers who my dad found as a kitten wandering down by the river where he was fishing. In fact, I learned at a young age that I needed to earn things on my own which started my perpetual desire to do well for those who were willing to employ me. I started babysitting at about 11 years old, I detasseled corn when I was 14, walking corn row after corn row during the hot summer (a very tough job for a young girl who barely made the height requirements, I could barely reach the tassel -- I must have gotten in the slave group -- cuz we had no tractor, like some people had). I got a work permit as soon as they would hand me one and started working at HyVee before I was old enough to drive a car. As soon as I turned 16 I began working as many hours as I could at the law firm where I am still employed today while still earning straight A's my senior year of high school. I saved half of every paycheck I ever received so that I could go to college.
So, mom and dad, thanks for not indulging me -- I wouldn't have it any other way.
There is a 30 Days of Thankfulness Challenge going on at The Story Matters #8 - I am thankful for friends. Now I like to just "hang out" occassionally, but I am not the girl who likes to go shopping or go get my hair or nails done with friends, etc. -- also, I tend to be a bit quiet and reserved and not the best at holding up my end of the conversation. So...what I REALLY love are my friends that I DO things with...so to all my friends who: (you know who you are) run with me, walk with me, hike with me, hunt with me, work with me, fish with me, create/make crafts with me, take pictures with me, share activites with our kids together, pick berries with me, shoot rifles, guns or bows with me, camp with me, go to concerts with me...I am thankful for all of you today!!
Just so happens Megan and I went out hunting together again on Friday night which was opening night of coon season. All you see is a picture of 2 girls with 4 coons -- but we have the memories of how we got 'em and the incredible laughs getting there...now that is my kind of night, thanks Megan!
Also I got to run a race on deer trails and across creeks through Scott County Park on Sunday with my friend Amy. We got to swing across creeks with rope swings, we got to scale the side of a steep mini mountain (yep, they have 'em) with a rope and we also got to wade through creeks and try to make our way up the mud on the other side. This is the first race I have had to duct tape my shoes on so that they didn't get sucked off in the mud in the bottom of the creek. I saw more people wallowing around in mud trying to get back up from falling than I have seen in my entire life -- it was hilarious! 6 miles and a lot of laughs later -- we crossed the finish line, thanks Amy for a great race! And last weekend I got to run a 5K with my friends Jan, Bonnie and Debbie. Congrats to both Jan and Debbie on completing their first race!
#7 - I am thankful that I have discovered I have a love for running. I wish I devoted MORE time to it, but I have to keep a balance of everything in my life so I just get out when I can. I love how much better I feel since that first time I decided to run about 1 1/2 years ago. This is a picture of me runnig the Bix for the first time this summer -- nope I'm not that 1/2 naked guy on the right... :)
There is a 30 Days of Thankfulness Challenge going on at The Story Matters blog. #6 - I am so thankful for my health and the health of my family (I know - kinda creepy pic, but does anyone put much thought into everything that goes on inside our bodies every second?? It is all very amazing). The fact that we are able to do all of the things we do without difficulty (hike, run, climb trees, drag deer, haul firewood, wrestle, etc.) -- the fact that we have no huge medical issues are all things I do regularly feel thankful for.
There is a 30 Days of Thankfulness Challenge going on at The Story Matters blog. #5 - Ok, enough with the sappy things I am thankful for (at least for today). I am thankful for a GOOD LAUGH...which means I am thankful for one of my ALL TIME FAVORITE MOVIES........The Hangover! Some of the lines from the movie that can just make me crack up even if I am just walking through the grocery isle and they come to mind are: "Am I missing a tooth?" "No, it's a satchel" "I tend to think of myself as a one-man wolfpack." "RehTARD." Ok, ok - enough of that - I have myself laughing over here thinking of these...
There is a 30 Days of Thankfulness Challenge going on at The Story Matters blog. #4 - I am so very thankful for my wonderful husband, Paul. I love that after more than 21 years together we are still so in love with each other. I am thankful that through every trial and tribulation we can dig throug it all to find solace in each other. There is a peace inside when you know that you are safe in your husband's arms. The term "soul mate" is used loosely in society today -- but I know I have found mine. I love how we laugh together. I love that no one on the outside truly knows how deep our relationship is on the inside -- it makes it more personal and ours alone. I love that Paul would do anything I ask -- even when I don't ask -- even something like my simply mentioning that an area might be a good spot for a deer stand -- I better watch out cuz he will have one hung before the day is through. The fact that I never quite know the next thing that is going to come out of his mouth makes life interesting. I love that Paul warms the bed up at night before I crawl in and that he lets me snuggle up and suck every ounce of heat from his body. I love how he is always freezing in the morning and I am hot and running around in a tank top so I get to warm him up to make up for taking his heat the night before. I love that our differences make our relationship whole. I am also thankful for Paul because he is such a wonderful dad to Skyler. There is something about watching them interact in such a positive way that melts my heart. Paul may be many things to many people, but when when the door closes and it is just he and I -- I love that I get to love the Paul only I know -- Thank you Paul for being you.
There is a 30 Days of Thankfulness Challenge going on at The Story Matters blog. The challenge asks that you list one item a day that you are thankful for and post it along with a corresponding photo. I have decided to participate as I like this sort of thing -- and believe that nothing bad can come from being thankful for all I am blessed with. Since I started a little late -- I have to get caught up by listing 3 things in this first post. I am starting with the most obvious and important things. After this I may jump around on the importance scale...
So for #1 -- and the piece of my life I am most thankful for is the fact that God is the leader of our family. Our family has an inner desire to follow God's path for our life -- we stumble -- and we certainly don't always live the way we should...but it doesn't change the fact that when the day is done we bow our heads and say a prayer of thanks that God allowed us to have another day trying our best.
# 2 -- I am obviously thankful for our family. I love that we love to have fun together and we love to be together. Spending time together is not a chore or a requirement we fill because we have to -- we choose to be together whether it is a day in the timber or running to the grocery store. I am so thankful that in this life I was given the two most wonderful people to spend my days with...
#3 -- I am eternally thankful for Skyler. Why I was blessed with such a wonderful daughter, I will never know. The way she makes me laugh and the way she makes me look at life from a different perspective is a treasure in itself. I look forward to our time together each and every day. Her love of the timber, animals and life are contageous. She has even started to help me out in the "style" department -- which an old mom can always use :) She is the daughter I always hoped for. Joy is the word I think of when I think of Skyler -- she has added more to my life than I could have ever thought possible.
Our life can only be described as a hunting focused family. We spend the entire year with a drive many consider above and beyond preparing for those few moments when flint meets steel or arrows are set to fly. The final product is always worth the countless hours of preparation. Welcome to our lives.