August 2013: “What are some of your secrets for balancing all that you do? How do you prioritize all of your activities and responsibilities?”
My parents and I laughed pretty hard at this topic when we read it. My big secret is my Mom. She is the master of the clock and the calendar.
Not everything is on the calendar. Even though we try really hard, we still miss something every once in awhile. We feel stupid when we do, especially if we have it written down! The calendar is also important because we make notes on it, like about heat cycles and diet changes.
All year long, we get activity calendars from my organizations and Mom immediately copies down dates of things I will be involved in. In June, we start trying to schedule my lessons for the fall.
I am in pointe ballet and lyrical dance classes. I am also on the 4-H air rifle team. Dance and air rifle are hard to coordinate. Last year on Thursdays I had to fly through my chores after school, go to air rifle early when the range was empty (thanks Mr. Arrington!), get my targets in, leave early, and change in the dance studio’s tiny bathroom, have pointe class, sit for an hour in the waiting room, do homework, text, visit, and then change into my lyrical foot wear, have lyrical class, eat, finish homework, go to bed.
I used to do competitive Irish dancing, but I had to quit because the Oklahoma State Feis (dance and cultural competition) is on the same day as the OKC State Fair Dairy Show every year. I was practicing all year long and couldn’t make it to the competition. We are still sad about that one.
I also used to take piano lessons. I quit when my teacher got cancer. During her recovery, I filled my time with more activities, and I never re-enrolled. That’s kind of a bummer, too. Now, I sometimes teach myself songs from the tutorials they have on YouTube, instead.
I am also a member of the International Order of the Rainbow for Girls. It is a Christian youth service organization for young ladies sponsored by the Masonic fraternities. We have meetings two times a month, and we also have extra practices to prepare for speech and march contests, then of course there are the competitions that last several days. I have perfect attendance since I joined over a year ago. There are formal dress functions about once every month and a half, receptions, and dances.
4-H has one meeting per month. I have been an officer for four years. Besides Shooting Sports (air rifle), I am also involved in Food Science/Nutrition, Photography, Impressive Dress, Prepared Speeches, Extemporaneous Speaking, Web Page Design, Farmhand Olympics, Livestock Judging, Arts/Crafts, Flyers/Posters/Brochures/Working Displays, Cake/Pie Contests, Share the Fun (Talent), Food Showdown, Powerpoint/Keynote Presentation, and probably some other stuff that I'm going to feel stupid for forgetting. These are things I do on my own time as I can fit them in. I don’t have to go to a meeting or a mini round up for them.
This school year I will be in eighth grade. I will get to be in the middle school ag class again, and I will OFFICIALLY get to join FFA! I will also stay in 4-H, but it will be tricky. I have to be very careful not to double-dip in a project area. I will be old enough to participate with the county-level of youth leadership in 4-H, so that will potentially add two more sets of meetings to my schedule. For ag class, I also participate in CDEs and cattle grading. This summer, since I'm finally old enough, I'm also trying out for a (beef) cattle handling team.
Sometimes it gets tricky getting to things. Thursday nights were bad this year. To top it all off, Mom has Ag Booster Club meeting once a month on a Thursday night. Sometimes Dad has to pick me up or MawMaw has to drop me off. My parents sure do appreciate MawMaw and GrandDad. They are our support system. They live between our school and our house, so they are a great help.
Our calendar is full of reminders about meetings and lessons and DEADLINES. I get my topics and deadlines from Proud To Dairy/Progressive Dairyman six months at a time. That helps me work on them as I have ideas. So like this article, it is June 20th, and I’m writing August’s article. There are also essay deadlines, presentation deadlines, homework deadlines, registration deadlines, and then there are heat cycles to track. Then when I get involved in contests or scholarship opportunities, I have to get essays, photos, scripts, and videos completed and submitted on time.
Sometimes I have to make tough choices. Sometimes I just can’t. So it’s not even a choice to make. Like in June, we had six dairy field days. I got really sick on the Ayrshire one, so I stayed in bed and slept all day...but then got up that night and went to a 4-H recordbook information meeting. Then the next week we HAD to get some things done for our home and our family and my animals during the OSU All Breeds field day. We wanted to help the Chupp family with the 2013 National Guernsey Convention (even though I don’t own any Guernseys), but I have a weekend school of instruction that I’m obligated to for Rainbow, and I am expecting Posey to calve during that time, too. There were two blood institute days I could have done, but I only did one. I had to do some prep work getting things moved around and purchased for Posey’s soon-to-be calf. So sometimes it comes down to choosing the thing I have the most invested in.
I know my choices sometimes disappoint other people, but sometimes, I’m disappointed, too.
Of course, I always find some time to veg out. I watch television. I facetime, text, instagram, and facebook, and actually get together in real life with my friends. I sleep late whenever I can get away with it. Sometimes I don’t want to do anything but veg out, but my mom sometimes lets me practice driving her truck in the pasture or around the farm. One time she turned me loose and I drove around the machine shop, backed up to my trailer, hooked it up, and pulled it around in front of MawMaw and GrandDad’s house all by myself while she was inside! It was awesome! Sometimes she says we can pick up my friends on the way through town and take them with us. They love to see the “baby cows” or the “moo moos” (Sometimes I think they’ll never learn.) So anyway, Mom uses things like that as incentives to get me in gear when I need it.
Not only do we have THE CALENDAR, but we also operate off alarms. My mom’s cell phone can handle up to ten alarms. Our minds are going in a million directions every day. If we don’t set alarms, like “4:40 - pick up feed”, we won’t remember until after closing time. That means no feed order until after we feed the next day. There are lots of things like that to remember before closing time. Several places we do business are not even open on the weekends, so between finishing chores and closing time, we have to burn up the road to get some things done.
My dad has a plan that Mom will drive this truck until I get my license, and then it will be mine, and she can have a cute little car or SUV again. That means that between now and then, I’m going to have to learn to master the clock and the calendar like her...but I have a feeling that she will still act like my executive assistant, except with a lot more texts and phone calls to check in. I'm sure lucky she works for free!