Saturday, February 21, 2015

So This is 40

I woke up this morning, 40 and irritated. I was not bothered to be 40, I was annoyed because I had one of those dreams where my husband was being inappropriate and belligerent. (No one who read my last post will be shocked by this. #10 speaks volumes.)

So of course I told him all about it and said he could make it up to me with a latte from Starbucks. And a pastry. And bacon.

I checked my phone to see a text from my sister.

She wrote:

"It is 40:-) !!! Here comes your first mammogram!"

Wow, this day is getting better by the minute.


While sipping my black coffee that is decidedly not a Starbucks' latte, I reflected on my life and the things I have learned about myself, others and the world in general. While sadly, I still have much to figure out, I have gained some valuable wisdom in my time that I will now share with you.

I sound like I should be wistfully stroking my white beard while smoking a corncob pipe, don't I?

So This is 40 - A list of things I now know from three solid decades of learning (mostly the hard way):

1. I enjoy being waited on.

For me, nothing is more of a killjoy than an 'order your food at the counter' establishment. I want someone to walk up to me while I'm comfortably seated and ask me what I want and need. And then this beautiful thing happens; they bring me what I ordered. That right there is the good stuff, folks.

Clearly I was meant to have servants.


2. My passion for country life, nature and horses is actually a necessity.

I found this out when my horses where gone for three years. I was left with a deep chasm in my soul- one I filled with shoes, scarves and handbags. I need grass, trees, chirping birds and horse slobber; those things all make me a better human.



3. My family means the world to me.

Yes, I realize I wrote about my horses first. Whoops. 

This world means nothing without connection to others. My children, husband and extended family are all shining stars in my life. Our relationships may not be perfect, but they are braided tightly from time, shared experiences and love. I wouldn't trade my people for the world. Not even for an obscenely large sum of money.



4. My close friends are like family.

It's all about the people; it's all about the love. My friends are the bee's knees. They support me, they protect me, they listen to me, they care about me, and those things are reciprocated. They enrich my life in immeasurable ways. Find those people and keep them close. 


5. Wrinkles. So what?

I have them. I like some of them... and others, not so much. In fact, I have gained a variety of things from aging: kids, a husband, a house, successes, failures, a great career, wisdom, life experience and a killer cowboy boot collection. A bit of lined skin doesn't scare me- as Edie Brickell said, "Wear with pride the scars on your skin. They're a map of things you've done and places you've been." She forgot to mention how kids cause wrinkles, but other than that, I like her take on skin marks. I'm kind of proud of my path and therefore, I embrace my wrinkles (except for the really deep ones under my eyes- those could go away.)



6. Living comfortably outside of my comfort zone.

This is a big one and took me years to figure out - in fact, I'm still working on it. But it has been a game changer and I like the direction it's taken me.



7. It is easier to truly see people.

Nothing is more humbling than aging while being a parent. You are challenged- sometimes daily- past your breaking point and pushed beyond reasonable physical and mental limitations. Yet you love those little people beyond measure. You accept them. Then you realize that every person on this planet was once one of them and that their experiences -good and bad- formed them. Then you feel a bit more forgiveness, acceptance and kindness toward people in general. And you embrace them, flaws and all. And you also realize that some of them are so broken that in order to protect yourself and your loved ones, you can't allow them inside your circle, and that's okay too.



8. I know my tastes, style and preferences.

These are great things to have a firm grasp of and - at 40 - I finally do. Hells yeah.




9. Being surrounded by a life I created.

We manifest everything, every experience and everyone around us. It's pretty cool, and also a little scary, if you think about it. So plant those flowers, paint that fence, read that book, engage in that conversation, write that story and spend that time. We're driving the car- let's steer it somewhere amazing.




10. Love.

Isn't love the best? Sure, it's frightening and uncertain, but what isn't? I think that there's no better risk than love. If you don't remove your armour you'll never feel the true agony and delight of love. It's probably like never drinking caffeine, which is sad.





Feel free to celebrate my birthday with me today. Hell, I'll be celebrating for a least two weeks, so join in the fun. There will be cake, wine and laughter. 
So, pretty much the same as every other day.

Bring it, 40.

Peace, Love and Unicorns,
Johi


P.S. I did eventually get my latte and a blueberry muffin. I'm still waiting on the bacon...







Friday, February 13, 2015

Things no one should ever have to say

When I step back from the context of pretty much any given situation in my life, I'm often appalled by what actually fell out of my mouth.

Here is a quick rundown from the past two weeks of things no one should ever have to say- except I said all of them:

1. Stop playing with your brother's buttcheeks.

2. Stop picking at it. What? Fine. If you pick at it, make sure you wash your hands before and afterwards.

3. Who peed on the wall again?

4. Who put their dirty socks on the coffee table again?

5. It's like sleeping next to a rutting hog who's running a chainsaw.

6. Well, at least it isn't measles!

7. She ripped up your Valentine and you are making her another one? Oh honey. Please don't.

8. Are you seriously crying because you're riding a pony?

9. Does anyone in this house know how to flush the toilet?

10. Brock, you cannot watch pirate porn with the babysitter.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Self-promotion is hard, yo

After much contemplation, it has become clear that I need a more "professional" page for marketing myself. As much as I would like to assume that all people want to read stories of PMS, pubic hair, vacation fails and my childhood as an indentured servant, I think assuming that would be incorrect. Except for the crotch carpet, because obviously everyone wants to know all about that.

When I first started blogging, narcissism soon became a concern of mine. Holy moly, does blogging entail a lot of talk of oneself. I quickly swept those concerns under the rug when I realized that I was mostly sharing my complete and utter failures with all of you, to enable you some laughter or commiseration in your day. No narcissist here, thankyouverymuch. Do you like my hair like this?

Anyhoo, I am in the process of creating a website where I talk about all the fabulous things I do with stories, photos and art. So... yeah. It's hard, you guys. I'm so used to being a smart ass that I'm finding "selling myself" difficult.

Here's my site: www.johikokjohnwagner.com

Check it out and let me know what you think. Basically, I'll be sharing things like this:





Instead of things like this:



Isn't Brock the best?

I've been working on the new web page for two days straight. Thing 1 just walked into my office and asked what I was doing.

I said, "I'm building my business so I can take you guys on vacations and maybe buy you some bigger horses and a bigger house with more property."

His eyes lit up and he said, "You're working on your business so you can make money?"

I answered, "Yes, my child."

Then he patted my leg and gravely said, "Keep working, mom."

So there's that.

And here's what I ask of you, my lovely and loyal readers of the Internet, who helped me not only name my husband's business, but also the prestigious and world famous kitteh- Captain Fluffernutter.


Sorry, I got distracted by his cute, wittle paws and pink tongue.

What I need from you are ideas of what to say about myself, as you are the ones who read my stories and are affected by my words. It will be particularly helpful if you have read my work in Chrome magazine and Paint Horse Journal, or if you have ever worked with me on a ranch, around horses, or in a creative capacity.

Wish me luck and follow my new page on facebook (if it suits you).

Peace, Love and Business Building,
Johi


Thursday, January 22, 2015

Pony verses Horse: What's better for my child?


Finding a hobby that the entire family enjoys can be difficult.

And no, staring at the television does not count.

Brock would love it if the entire family spent our free time at SASS (Single Action Shooting Society) events. I vetoed that immediately. I don't think spending my Saturdays hanging out with old, handle-bar mustached men dressed in old west garb, shooting guns around my kids sounds like a dreamy day. CALL ME CRAZY. (Sorry to all my SASS readers, I'm sure you're not actually as old as you appear.)

Thing 1 would love it if the entire family traveled by airplane to all of the amusement parks in the U.S. and bought every toy ever made! Sorry buddy. No.

Thing 2 would love our hobby to be playdates, playdates and more playdates with his buddies. So sweet, that one. All I can say is that there is a reason I only had two children and never became a teacher- it's because two children is my maximum for a drug-free existence.

And since no one shares my desire to spend all of their free time sitting quietly, sipping antioxidants and reading, I picked horses.

So we have decided that our family "hobby" is horses!



In all seriousness, Brock and I initially bonded over our mutual love of horses. He owned two spoiled, sour things (one couldn't be bridled and the other couldn't be ridden- SUPER NEAT) and I had a perfect, 3 year old named Gus. Did I mention he was perfect? And handsome.

Gus-being handsome- and me in South Dakota.


Now that the kids are out of diapers and into learning and doing stuff without the need for 435 bulky baby accouterments, we have definitely picked back up on the horses.

Last summer, after riding three times every week, both boys progressed considerably with their horsemanship. We ended the summer by taking a family horse camping vacation in South Dakota. While we all had a really good time, I couldn't help but think that it would have been better (as in, we could have kept up with the group instead of falling behind and keeping pace with snails) if the boys would have been riding full sized horses instead of short-legged ponies. With the next summer coming up, Brock and I need to make some big decisions about what our family hobby looks like. By that, I mean, do we buy the boys horses or keep them on ponies?

What is a better fit for my children?
What is the best fit for our family?




Any horse parent has been confronted with this question. Horses? Or ponies?
When in doubt, make a list. Here are my lists of general* pros and cons for ponies verses horses.

* Of course every animal is unique and different, but I am generalizing for the sake of ease. Plus, stereotyping is fun and a real time-saver! 

PONY PROS:



  1. Considerably cheaper to feed. Horses need to consume 2-5% of their body weight in forage. Our 16hh horses weigh approximately 1,200 pounds, requiring a minimum of 24 pounds of  hay per day, per horse. My horses are not easy keepers and require more than that to look healthy. In essence, we feed 1.5 bales of hay total per day to the two horses (the currents bales we buy weigh approximately 55 pounds and cost $8.50 PER BALE= ~$383/month in hay alone for two horses). This does not include grain, supplements, medicine, veterinary or farrier costs. Ponies weigh half of that, and the feed is substantially less because they are the ultimate "easy keepers"- in fact, we have to be careful not to overfeed our ponies because they both have a history of founder. 
  2. Less expensive to keep in general (vet and farrier expenses- Brock does all their hoof work).
  3. Less manure to clean= less trips I take to the chiropractor!
  4. Lower height puts children closer to the ground when, not if, the child falls.
  5. Ridiculously adorable, can be sweet (DUKE) and easy to groom.
  6. Builds child's confidence with grooming, saddling and mounting. Thing 1 can catch, groom and saddle his pony all by himself.
  7. Fluffy. So very fluffy!
  8. Those tiny ears. Super cute! OMG! THEY'RE SO ITTY BITTY!
  9. Live long time. Very long time. We had two ponies in their 40's. Duke is 28. 
Duke after he rubbed his face into the snow.


PONY CONS:


  1. Slower walk- difficult to keep them paced with horses.
  2. Bumpier trot (Thing 2 always complains of tummy aches when he rides).
  3. Low height puts children at higher risk of being kicked by other horses.
  4. Burro-like stubbornness.
  5. Hard to lead, Hard to rein.
  6. Bad pony-tude (CLYDE).
  7. Can be frustrating for kids.


HORSE PROS:


  1. Often well-mannered.
  2. Easy to rein.
  3. Walks at a pace of other horses.
  4. High off ground, better for trail riding through creeks and over rough terrain.
  5. Smoother gaits.
  6. Safer around other horses.
  7. Can loan out to my adult friends.
  8. Can personally ride and correct attitude, if needed.


HORSE CONS:
  1. Eats more.
  2. Poops more.
  3. Costs more in every way.
  4. Higher off ground, making inevitable falls more dangerous.
  5. Not as adorable as a pony.
  6. Bigger, which can be more dangerous for little people.
  7. Bombproof, proven trustworthy kid horses are often elderly, requiring expensive specialty care and feed.


I think the answer is clear: I still have no freaking idea.

I like to include the kids on our big discussions and decisions, so I asked Thing 2 for his opinion. He said he wants to ride Duke around the backyard and a big horse on the trail. So it seems the solution is clear: HAVE ALL OF THE THINGS!

It's the same answer to all of my problems in life. MORE MONEY. Then we can keep ponies for fun in the backyard and for petting and adoring purposes, and get horses for trail riding. Bam! Thing 2 is so smart. I'm totally letting him do my taxes this year.

What would you do?

Those of you who say "Get a different hobby" are disqualified. Horses are in our blood- there's no changing that fact. It's like me insisting that I'm not a mouthy smartass.

For those of you in the same boat, good luck with your decision!

Peace, Love and Money Trees,
Johi