Whew. It’s been crazy around here.

So. I know. WHERE have I been?

I haven’t blogged in a while. I imagine you noticed that. I’m not making excuses, but we had our county fair. And any 4-H parent knows the down-to-the-bone tiredness that comes with the end of the fair. It’s all-consuming tired. And then there was work stuff. And more work stuff. And. And. And.

Can you relate? Well, it’s been like that around here. We are trying to catch up.

So to catch you up, let’s start at the fair. Remember last year’s favorite photo?

FOFair3b

Well, the friendship continued this year:
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Good friends two years running. Which inspired me to write this column:

The right priorities

In my world, it’s nearly county fair time–a.k.a. Stay-up-late-washing-clothes-finishing-projects-stress-to-the-max-week.

Anyone who has been a 4-H or FFA parent knows the feeling of the week before the fair. In a nutshell, it’s stress, excitement, tension and anticipation all rolled into one. There’s the legal pads with several lists–one for every day leading up to the fair, one for the next trip to the store and one for all the things that need to be in the car on the morning of check-in. It can be overwhelming.

But recently, I had to sort through some photos of last year’s fair. What I saw made me smile, and helped me change my outlook. <read more>

The last about YCC, or not.

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As you might remember, I went on this really, really great trip called Young Cattlemen’s Conference. In case you missed the 5,284 posts about it, you can read about it here. That is, if you have an hour or two. That’s me, up on the rooftop of a building in Washington, D.C., overlooking the White House. Have I mentioned recently that my job is pretty cool? With me are Frank Krentz (on the left), a cattleman from Arizona who literally ranches on the Mexican border and Mike Deering, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association trade media contact. Mike is the one who asked me to go on this trip. I probably owe him a drink. Thanks Mike!

My full story ran in the High Plains Journal this week. Since you followed along, I thought you might like to see it. Here’s an excerpt:

Young Cattlemen’s Conference trains future leaders

By Holly Martin

What do you get when you throw 60 cowboys and cowgirls in to a bus? Throw in some feedlot dust, give them hairnet hair and a briefcase and you’ve got the makings of the Young Cattlemen’s Conference.

National Cattlemen’s Beef Association’s YCC is a program designed for leadership development. Since 1980 when the program began, over 1,000 young cattlemen and women completed the program. Today’s participants are nominated by NCBA affiliates and the program serves as a training ground to expose and educate future leaders to every segment of the beef industry, said Mavin Kokes, vice president of association marketing for NCBA.

In 2012, YCC was a 10-day experience beginning in Denver, stopping in Chicago and finally ending up in Washington, D.C. The success of the program is due to the people who participate, said Kokes. “This industry is full of leaders from all over the United States. Each year, participants experience things that they wouldn’t ever get to experience on their own,” he said. “YCC participants share a special bond that is difficult to replicate. The program creates lifelong friendships and business relationships, all the while preparing them for leading the industry in the future.” <more>

And here’s the photo gallery, that’s also posted over on my Photo Gallery page.

And so now, you might be saying, “Geez, I hope she’s done talking about the YCC thing.” And I am, only an experience like that lasts with you your entire life so I imagine the subject might pop up again a time or two or ten.

A precious commodity

As a working mom, there’s one thing more precious than anything. And if you think I’m going to write, “spending time with my children” then, honey, you’re wrong.

That precious commodity? Sleep. Beautiful sleep.

Here are the things that happen when I don’t get enough sleep:

  1. I get grouchy.
  2. I lose my patience.
  3. I get sleepy driving home from work.
  4. I can’t focus.
  5. I yell.
  6. I don’t think my boys’ jokes are funny.
  7. The dirty underwear on the bathroom floor suddenly becomes monumentally important.

Basically, it ain’t purty.

I know some working moms who covet the hours of solitude after their kids go to sleep. It’s “their” time to get things done, to watch the television they want to watch, to read a good book. Not me. If I’m not in bed shortly after my youngest. . . well, see above.

When my babies were babies, it was a rough time. Luckily, I have good sleepers and with the exception of a bad stretch here and there, they have allowed me to get the sleep I need. It has taken me a few years, but I’ve discovered that when I’m rested, my whole day goes better. I am a better writer, a better mom and a better wife. Losing sleep to pick up the dirty underwear? Not on your life. It is just not worth it.

Which all brings me to my point: it’s past my bedtime. I’ve got a date with my pillow.

It’s about to begin

I’m sitting at the airport, getting ready to board a flight to Denver. What awaits me is the 2012 Young Cattlemen’s Conference. Over the next 10 days, I’ll be learning everything there is to know about the cattle industry in the United States. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association holds this conference to help train young leaders in the beef industry. Each year, one media representative is allowed to tag along on this experience and this year, I’m it. I couldn’t be more excited.

So while I’ll be hanging out with a bunch of cowboys and cowgirls from all over the country, I’ll be leaving this little cowboy at home.

Lincoln

And his big brother who seems to hang out at the barn a lot taking care of his 4-H animals. (Photo by ShowChampions.com)

Campbell

And this guy. . . I couldn’t be gone this long without him.

Eric

I’ll miss some things while I’m gone – like the local livestock show, T-ball games, and wheat harvest. But I’m excited. It will be a good trip. And I’m glad you’ll be following along.