Category Archives: Ashley Grace’s Corner

A Legacy of Strength…

Fourteen years ago today, I entered the world of motherhood.  After a battle of wills that lasted about 16 hours, Ashley Grace entered the world three weeks early weighing 6 pounds and 3 ounces.  I have wondered many times over the past 14 years which one of us is more tenaciously obstinate—I believe that the jury is still out

We make quite a pair...

We make quite a pair…

Motherhood has proven to be both my greatest joy and my greatest challenge.  Balancing discipline and guidance as my girls journey their way through childhood and adolescence provides an ongoing personal search for me.  While I love my girls unconditionally, I know that it is my duty to raise them to be strong, hard-working, and compassionate young women.

They also make quite a pair...

They also make quite a pair…

Ashley Grace is a wonderful enigma and, every once in a while, I find the need to step back and marvel at this child that is such a part of both Matt and I.  The take-charge personality that is so much like me, combined with the intellectual mind that is so much like Matt.  Add in the quirks and sarcastic humor that make her uniquely Ashley Grace, and the result is a fascinating package.

Worn with pride as she realized success through hard work and dedication...

Worn with pride as she realizes success through hard work and perseverance…

Whether she is running her heart out on the cross country course and the basketball court, or dazzling me with facts and philosophical ideas that her sponge-like mind seems to absorb at an astounding rate; I thank God each day for the ability to share my life with her.

A good brain and a love of learning earned her national honors in the Duke University TIP program...

A good brain and a love of learning earned her national honors in the Duke University TIP program last spring…

Three days from now, my favorite teenager will climb the steps to the pulpit at Bethesda By the Sea Episcopal Church and to read at her Granddaddy’s Memorial Service.  She will do this with both grace and composure despite the fact that she will look out amongst hundreds of family members and friends as she shares from the book of Revelations.

Bethesda By The Sea Episcopal Church: Palm Beach, Florida

Bethesda By The Sea Episcopal Church: Palm Beach, Florida

Her innate sense of compassion and self-confidence will lend her strength as she takes an active role in the celebration of the tenacious man who will always hold a special place in our hearts.  This act of selflessness will be performed out of love and respect for her grandparents—both the one that we say goodbye to, and the strong woman who will now persevere through life without her husband of 45 years.

I know that as I watch Ashley Grace give this gift, my heart will warm as my dad smiles down with pride.

Handing down his passion and skill for fly fishing...

Handing down his passion and skill for fly fishing in his beloved Absaroka Mountains…

It will be a beautiful continuation of the legacy of strength that was born with the life of her Granddaddy…

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It Comes From Within…

My favorite teenager started playing basketball in a local youth recreation program as a fourth grader.  During her first game, she was a timid shadow on the court and I am pretty sure that she never touched the ball.  Her fear of fouling and lack of confidence caused her to choose to not engage on the court.

My favorite teenager at age 10...

My favorite teenager at age 10…

I believe in the power of positive reinforcement and have a rule that after each one of my girls’ sporting activities, Matt and I always compliment them on something that they did well.  I’ll never forget the look on Matt’s face as he visibly struggled to find something positive to say to Ashley Grace after that game.

Matt ended up placing a bet with our little 10 year old basketball protégé knowing that, given her personality, it would be an effective catalyst for positive change.

He bet that she couldn’t make a foul in the next game.  When she proved us wrong (and made a foul) we went to Dairy Queen as a family after the game for ice cream.  That first foul was the beginning of a new era as Ashley Grace learned that in order to be successful, you have to engage.  Mistakes will surely be made, but in the end engagement is the key.

A few years later, looking for a good shot...

A few years later, looking for a good shot…

Over the years, we have watched our daughter turn into a very good defensive player.  Today, she is often given the job of guarding players much larger than herself because her quickness and persistence make her incredibly effective at shutting them down.  She has learned that no matter what obstacle is placed in her path, success is something that comes from within. 

The girl in maroon is just slightly bigger than my favorite #32...

The girl in maroon is just slightly bigger than my favorite #32…

Her days of non-engagement on the basketball court are long behind her.  That timid ghost has steadily been replaced with a confident contributor.  Thursday evening I watched her sink two free throw shots in the last minute of the game to lead her team to victory.  I have to admit that I was blinking back the tears as I watched the composure and strength of character shine through.

The 10,000 baskets that she made "on a bet" last winter provided a good foundation...

The 10,000 baskets that she made on another bet last winter provided a good foundation…

As a parent I often struggle with the balance of helping my daughters and letting them learn to do things on their own.  Over the years, I have settled into a place where I try to always offer support and direction but at the same time step back enough to allow my girls to become strong and independent young women.

They will determine their own futures, it is my job to inspire confidence and strength in them so that they are successful...

I believe that allowing them that freedom teaches them that true strength comes from within…

After all, when the buzzer sounds in the game of life, it will be up to them to make the ball drop into the hoop…

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The Transition…

My favorite teenager made the transition last week from Cross Country to Basketball.  As always, she lamented the end of the XC season as running is her first love.  However, she is excited for basketball and looking forward playing a little bit of hoops :)

From the XC course to the basketball court...

From the XC course to the basketball court…

Ashley Grace shares many things in common with me, but struggling through transitions ranks near the top.  We are both creatures of habit and changes to our life schedules are challenging to deal with.  I am proud of the way that she is maturing and learning to deal with transitions as that is an important life skill.

As I wrote about earlier in the fall, we just built a new shop/steel building behind our house.  Knowing our girls’ love of sports and their need for some “active decomposing” time in their lives, we built the new shop with a high enough roof pitch to be able to make a partial basketball court in the building.

My favorite farmer with his favorite teenager...

My favorite farmer with our favorite teenager…

My favorite engineer turned farmer teamed up with my favorite teenager over the weekend to paint the court.  I love to watch Matt work with the girls.  The engineer in him mandates a level of precision while doing tasks, yet he is also extremely patient with the girls as they work together.

Getting ready to paint...

Getting ready to paint…It’s the hard knock life!

I doubt that my girls really understand how truly lucky they are to have such a wonderful dad, but I thank God every day for all that Matt brings to our lives.  While there is certainly more to life than straight lines on a basketball court, it doesn’t get much better than completing a project that will bring joy and memories for years to come.

Teamwork...

Teamwork…

Today I head to Dakota City to attend my second Tyson Fresh Meats Animal Wellbeing committee meeting.  Although I will miss both my family and the farm, I know that I leave them in capable and loving hands.DSC07240

It is always interesting to arrive back home after a couple of days on the road—I know that I can count on my favorite teenager to tell the entertaining tales of life with my favorite farmer steering the helm…

Or perhaps the helm will actually be steered by the basket swooshing teenager...

Or perhaps the helm will actually be steered by the teenager…?

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Passion—Preparation—Perseverance

Friday afternoon brought record temperatures (a high of 104 degrees) for the first Haymaker Cross Country meet of the season.  It was hot—there was no other way to describe it.  Mother Nature’s harshness presented an incredible challenge for the young athletes that gathered to compete.

My favorite teenage in a huddle with her teammates before the Junior High race...

My favorite teenage in a huddle with her teammates before the Junior High race…

There were some that were victorious—those that worked hard over the summer months to build a running base that would carry them past the vicious hurdle of a long run through what some might describe as the fires of hell.  There were others that were defeated both mentally and physically by the ruthless conditions.

As I watched the hundreds of athletes make their way across the course, there were several words that ran through my head:

  • Passion
  • Preparation
  • Perseverance

There was a visible difference between the young people that had developed these life skills, and those that were still searching to find them.

A gutsy run brought her both a 3rd place finish and a smile...

A gutsy run brought her both a 3rd place finish and a smile…

I was reminded of my own years as an athlete.  Little Anne Gibson was never the most physically talented athlete in the competition, but my 5’3” frame was packed full of the three P’s.  Although there were certainly times when I longed for another 6”s of height and muscles that would move me just a little bit faster, the three P’s brought me many athlete victories.

A younger Anne with her coach---a great mentor in her search for the three P's...

A younger Anne with her beloved coach after a victory in an ocean mile swim…

Although I retired from competitive athletics almost twenty years ago, I have taken that same passion, preparation and perseverance with me during every day of my adult life.  It is what drives me toward excellence as I raise both my children and my cattle on the prairies of Nebraska.

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I cherish the opportunities that I have to pass along the three P’s to my daughters, and it brings me tremendous pride to watch them mature into hard working and determined young women.  I am also incredibly thankful for both my parents and my youth swimming coach for instilling these values so deeply in my heart.  I hope that they realize that every success that I achieve is linked back to their diligent mentoring.

Youth that develop the three P’s learn not to settle…

They learn to aspire for greatness, and figure out that the joy of success is sweetened by the hard work and determination that ensures it…

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The Coerced Post: By Ashley Grace…

I have been ordered to sit down and write about my summer. I believe mom’s exact words were, “Tell our readers how a 13 year old Nebraska farm girl brainiac spends her summer.” So here it goes.

Kickin' it on the Thames River...

Kickin’ it on the Thames River…

I went to the UK with my Grandma in June. We spent five days in London.  While we were there, we visited Westminster Abbey, the Tower of London, Kensington Palace, and the Greenwich Observatory, where the Prime Meridian is located!

Straddling the Prime Meridian in Greenwich...

Straddling the Prime Meridian in Greenwich…

I loved seeing the crown jewels and the burial place of Anne Boleyn and Kathryn Howard at the Tower. (I’m a history nerd!) Then we spent a day at Hampton Court Palace, a favorite castle of Henry VIII.

He might be even more serious than my Mom...

He might be even more serious than my Mom…

After that my grandma and I went to Salisbury and saw Stonehenge and Old Sarum, the village that was a predecessor to Salisbury. We also went to Salisbury Cathedral, which was built in just 30 years and houses a copy of the Magna Carta.  My grandma was really excited to see trout in the river Avon!

My favorite part of our visit to Canterbury was punting on the river Stour. We also went to the Cathedral and saw a lot of pretty stained glass. I loved going to Dover and walking on the white cliffs. I made my Grandma walk all the way down to the beach on the Channel and then back up!

Hurry up, Grandma!

Hurry up, Grandma!

This summer I also participated on swim team with my family. This year at Championships, the Gothenburg ~ Cozad team won, and I got first in the 100m freestyle!

The 100 Freestyle Champion!

The 100 Freestyle Champion!

This is my second summer running for the Cozad Cross Country 200 mile club. Last year I ran 250 miles over the summer. My mom didn’t let me run while I was in the UK, so I had to increase my daily mileage when I got back.  I hope I will make 200. Right now I am at 151.

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Rackin’ in the miles…

Stonehenge: Whispers of the Past is a poem inspired by my trip to England.

Footsteps travel through ancient hills

With precision and ceremony that induce chills

Watching the sun rise behind pillars of rock

Set there by magic that has been wrought

We now speculate with science and math

What went down on that old path

How did they lift those pillars of glory

And what role did they play at England’s history

I have put two other new poems on my page, so check it out! Hope you enjoy and have a great rest of the summer!

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Ode to Earth Day…

Christmas 2012 072

Earth Day

Earth, our fragile island home,

Is in need of saving, that is known.

Millenniums of humans have taken a toll

So now we must fix the wrong we doled.

Earth Day reminds us of that time we borrowed.

Recycling and conserving are more imperative than ever to secure a tomorrow!

Ashley Grace

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Poetic Beauty…

My beautiful poet...

My beautiful poet…

A towering tree and skier speckle Mt. Werner

Loom over a pretty slope side corner.

Rivers cut through snowy scenes

Like icy cold ribbon seams.

Squirrels and magpies chatter nonstop

Until deer hooves go clip, clop.

The trees are covered in ice and snow

And in the moonlight they seem to glow.

Children laugh and throw snowballs

Then come inside to warm and get snow in the halls.

If you look hard enough, you may see

Moose eating down by the stream.

As a careful skier picks their way downhill,

A snow boarder whizzes past showing off mad skill.

Cozy little cabins with white snow trim

Say that our chances of wanting to come home are slim.

The beautiful mountains...

The beautiful mountains…

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The Call Of The Mountains…

A striking Wyoming mountain scene…

My parents bought a cabin in northwestern Wyoming about 10 years ago.  My dad’s lifelong dream was to retire to the trout streams of the Rocky Mountains, and this cabin made that dream a reality.  The laid back western pace and the neighborly community attitude are an added bonus to the many trout that my parents search for during the summer months.

Passing the dream down to future generations…

The girls and I go visit every summer, as I too feel the call of the beautiful Wyoming mountains.  We ride horses, hike trails, and fly fish for those elusive little creatures that live amongst the sparkling streams.  It is a time of joy for all of us as we experience the nature of our neighbors to the west.

The thrill of the catch…

The feel of fall and winter is in the Nebraska air.  We have already had our first snow, and Ashley Grace and I exercised calves and checked cattle last Sunday with a dawn temperature of 17 degrees.  In honor of the passing season of summer, I want to share a poem that Ashley Grace wrote about Wyoming.

Inspiring beauty…

This mountain’s floor

is heaven’s door

with pretty flowers

and nice rain showers

a bubbling brook

runs through a nook

of a mountain scene

that could be a dream.

My fledgling poet…

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