July of 2005 – My husband Mark and I were burning both ends of the candle as well as strategic spots in the middle. We were both employed full-time; Mark has been in the diesel mechanic (earth mover type equipment) trade as either management or a mechanic for the past 10 years, and I’d been a Telecommunications Manager for over 18 years. When we got home and changed our clothes, it wasn’t to relax… it was to put on boots and jeans and start working horses. We had a small (but expensive) ranch in central Texas, several horses, and it took running a few head of our own cattle and boarding and training other people’s horses to pay our bills every month. So every evening was working with a colt or three, and every weekend was either putting on a horse training clinic, fixing fences, hauling hay or feed in, or the like. In addition, Mark was working on remodeling our house, and I wrote a monthly column for a regional horse magazine. We liked our lifestyle but there was literally no downtime.
So enter the news that we were expecting a baby! My obstetrician of course immediately informed us that it was time to slow down, but hard-headedness is an inherent trait so the slowing down didn’t occur until God jumped in there and seconded the doctor’s opinion by giving me 24/7 nausea! I was 37 when I got pregnant and it really set me down under a shade tree.
I continued working full-time until our son Colton was born in the Spring of 2006, and after two months’ maternity leave was up, went back to work 6 hours a day, 4 days a week, with Colton in daycare nearby. These part-time hours were approved for six months, at which point I would need to return to full-time employment.
Mark and I had been talking about simplifying things for a long time; we finally decided that if we were going to be able to raise Colton at home, we were not going to be able to do it where we were living. By Colton’s 4 month birthday, our ranch was up for sale and we were making plans. Two months later, in September of ‘06, I quit my job, my husband got a transfer within the same company to Billings, Montana, and we moved.
Mark supports our family and I have continued to write for the magazine but otherwise am a homemaker and stay-at-home Mom. We bought a house in a nice, family-oriented neighborhood within the city limits of Billings, and have the few horses that we brought with us in boarding (we sold the rest). We each had late model big ¾ ton pickups and we sold both since we no longer haul horses so regularly, and bought Mark an older truck and myself a “mom car”, between them saving us almost $800 a month in payment, insurance and fuel costs.
We now have more time for the family because we don’t have chores in the evening, so we’re able to play in the backyard, go hiking, and plan camping trips in the nearby mountain ranges. We are living carefully within our means and used money from the sale of our property to pay off all credit card debt, so the psychological burden of being financially over-extended has gone as well. For the first time ever, we are able to start saving money towards college for our son and retirement for ourselves.
The biggest adjustment was in our perception of ourselves. Both my husband and I had worked very hard to stay “on the land” and we really enjoyed the western/horse-oriented lifestyles that we lived. What it came down to for us was whether or not we would sacrifice our hard-earned lifestyle, or our parent and family time. I look longingly at my hand-tooled spurs hanging on the wall sometimes, but then I feel a tug on my leg from our little cowboy’s hand and know that we definitely made the right decision for us. I guess God is rewarding us for the decision; Psalms 127:3 says that “Lo, children are an inheritance of the Lord, and the fruit of the womb is His reward”… we were surprised with news that we are expecting again (a little girl this time) just one month after moving to Montana! Make that college savings times two…