The Western. A Post all to itself.

Ok. So Rusty's been talking about this bar called "The Western" ever since he went home for Christmas. It is definitely a place I couldn't miss if I was going to be in Tatum. We were both beyond exhausted on Sunday night but I needed to at least "experience" The Western at least once in my life. So we hopped in the car, psyched ourselves up the whole 1/2 hour drive there (well, more like I was psyching myself up), only to find out they were closed on Sunday! I was pretty sad. I've included a picture that even states, "Open Sunday". Dang it. So, in order for me to not completely miss out on the experience, we stopped for a Miller Lite and a game of pool on our way out of town on Tuesday. Oh Man. It was everything I could've hoped for. And then some. First of all, the building is made out of tin, and its walls are lined with termite-infested wood. The barstools are cushioned with holey, worn-out seats, it houses 2 pool tables, a shuffle board table, a tarped-off-area that is the "karaoke-section", and last-but-not-least, it had a fireplace that had cigarette-carton-boxes for kindling. Awesomeness.


The Klein Farm:

Cattle Guard...They have these between pastures so you can drive over it without having to open a gate. And, the cattle won't cross it. I can see why...that would leave a mark.

One of the pasture's watering holes for the cattle:

Pump Jack. These things are everywhere.

The cattle roaming in the field. I took this at dusk.

Another watering hole.

The edge of the farm.

Can I get a Self-Timer?

Carlsbad Caverns

On Monday, we traveled about 2 hours south of Tatum to Carlsbad. A town known for it's massive cave that goes down 800 feet underground! It's unbelievable really and I couldn't quite capture it's brilliance as best as I had hoped. But, the pictures still give you the idea. We had dinner with Rusty's grandparents that night, and they were telling me that the entire natural walk is about 5-6 miles total. Trekking down steep hills, cutting back and forth to make your way down in the cave made for an incredible adventure, but towards the end the staleness of the air did give me a bit of a headache. This was definitely the highlight of the trip!

In the summertime, thousands of bats enter the cave here at dusk. Behind Rusty is seating for spectators to watch this spectacular event every night.
The whale's mouth. Looks just like one!

I went potty 800 feet underground.

The elevator counted down by feet. Inside, the elevator lady turned out the lights so we could see the cavern wall out the window as we rode up.

Plants and Animals

The Klein's grow wheat and alfalfa as well as raise around 50-100 cattle. While Rusty was working, I chilled with the cows for about an hour. Just call me the cow paparazzi. They couldn't quite figure me out, but they were quite the posers. Show offs.
This one walked over to me, stood there long enough for me to snap a picture, and then walked away. The next Paris Hilton.

After this star-studded event, Rusty picked me up on the 4-wheeler so I could go chase down some antelope in the next pasture. They were a bit more camera shy so I refer to them as the Reese & Jake's of my subjects.
My bird friend:
Who knew there were so many different types of cactus? I'm not sure what all their names are but here are some of them in all their glory. Prickly little suckers...one got me right in the tush!
Rusty was telling me these little clumps on the "prickly pear" cactus will embed in your skin making it impossible to get out. OUCH!
Isn't he cute?? Looks like a little meerkat!
I made Rusty pull over to the side of the road so I could get a picture with these cool cacti.

Rabbits & Sprinklers

Sunday was spent around the farm all day. Riding the 4-wheeler around, fixing sprinklers (that are like 100 or so yards long, at least), chillin' with the cows, chasing antelope, catching rabbits, and getting blasted with the neverending dust and wind. I don't think my hair will ever forgive me for that ridiculousness...next time, I'll bring a hat.

Rusty and his sister, Lacey, had a hell of a time getting the sprinklers going. Having to constantly adjust in order to keep them straight...it all looked to me like a real pain in the butt. I offered to help but quickly realized that I would be more in the way than anything. Although, Rusty did give me the responsibility of turning the knob on the sprinkler to get it going. Of course, I botched that by making it go the wrong way. No worries, I figured it out.

Notice how off-kilter it is towards the end:
My knob.

Rusty had to move some of the pipes around on the sprinklers. Apparently, the rabbits like to crawl in the pipes and hide. Here are some shots of Rusty and Toby (the dog) removing one. Unfortunately, I cannot promise that all rabbits were unharmed during the shooting.


Let me preface the next few posts by explaining how and why I (Brandi) vacationed in the great state of New Mexico. My amazing, thoughtful, and generous boyfriend, Rusty, grew up on a farm there in the town of Tatum. Population: 800. Rusty's Dad turned 50 this year, and in honor of that, his Mom decided to take him to Mexico to celebrate. This, however, was only possible if someone would be able to run the farm (which is normally single-handedly run by Rusty's father) while they were away. This is where Rusty comes in. He not only gave up his own personal vacation days to go home to work but also took me with him! Pretty generous and thoughtful, don't ya think? So, while most of the time Rusty was out busting his butt and working hard, I was wandering around aimlessly taking pictures and enjoying the vast amount of nothingness. At times I think he thought I was pretty silly for getting excited about things like 4-wheelers and cactus, but I found it all pretty exciting! I took over 300 pictures, which explains why these next posts are filled with plenty of visual affects. I hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoyed taking them! :)

This is my favorite picture from the trip:


Speech Therapy Update

Jeff and I had Ella's 2nd trimester Parent-Teacher Conference yesterday with Miss Karen and Miss Janet...her teacher and speech therapist. Ella has been attending school since September and recently we changed her schedule to 4 days/week here, and daycare on Friday's. We are all in agreement that Ella seems to love preschool, has adapted well to her schedule, and is showing great progress. One of the major goals has been to get Ella to work on her "m", "p", and "b" sounds...all consonants that involve closing the mouth in order to verbalize. She has shown major success with this and is now saying words like bubbles, Pinkie, play, mine(this is a favorite), boy, purple, etc.

Over the last few weeks she has shown interest in colors and is able to say every color in her color book, although orange she calls "noise". Still pretty good for a 3 year-old. She can also count to 12...verified by Miss Karen. The class has been working on dressing/undressing themselves (with their snowsuits) daily which has triggered Ella's need to prove that she can do this at home. She changes her clothes anywhere from 2 to 20 times on any given evening.

The challenges that we are still facing with Ella's speech is following through with the endings of words like "ing" or "ed" when describing things/actions. She is also having a hard time answering Who, What, and Where questions. And, whenever she is asked to say an animal, instead of using the name, she uses the sound the animal makes in order to describe it. For example, a "Moo" is a cow, a "Meow" is a cat, a "Qua Qua" is a duck...you get the idea.

All in all though, the class has been wonderful for Ella's speech, and it really is a relief to be able to verbally communicate with each other now. Her teachers were quick to state that she is a very smart little girl, and her grasp of concepts is spot on, sometimes even above and beyond, where she should be for her age. Yay!