altHappy New Year! This past year is almost in my rearview mirror. We enjoyed several old family traditions this past year. We began some new ones too. As I reflect on the fullness or our days and evenings it’s understandable how each year flies by faster than the last.

Our oldest daughter was part of a competitive dance team. We were on the road attending competitions this last winter and spring. We enjoyed a quick trip to Colorado to ski. We spent time in the bleachers at several baseball and softball games; coaching and cheering our way through the season. This summer, we enjoyed our local Rodeo of the Ozarks with some friends who had never attended a rodeo. It’s always fun to introduce people to something we enjoy.

Our youngest daughter played a lead role in her middle school’s production of Snow White this month. The boys have joined a local 4-H Club. They have big plans for a cattle dog and show rabbit operation. I can’t wait.

My husband introduced the boys to sprint car racing last fall. They are fans. They dart out the door to get chores done so they can practice “racing” their little buggies in our front yard.

Our youngest daughter learned to can. Her jar of homemade salsa went on to the Arkansas State Fair. We can now refer to Aunt Jan’s salsa as “Blue Ribbon Salsa.”

We’ve ventured out in our RV (also known as the Tour Bus) around Arkansas. We enjoyed trout fishing on the White River, a trip to Platte City, Mo., and the best trip of all was all the way to Destin, Fla. We may never get all the sand out of the camper, but these farm kids enjoyed creating sandy fields, castles and racetracks.

The wildest news from 2019 is – we have a new driver. Our oldest daughter turned 14 in November. In Arkansas, this is the age a person can test for a driver’s learning permit. Our kids have grown up driving everything from RTV’s to bulldozers on the farm. However, the open roads and highways are a whole new animal for a young woman to absorb.

My husband brought her home the driving manual to study. She wasn’t very motivated. She was probably the only eighth grade girl in her school who didn’t have a phone. We have postponed as much technology as humanly possible in our household. It’s hard to manage and mostly unnecessary. Especially since the two of us walked up hill to school in the rain and snow both ways in eighth grade. You remember how it was?

We challenged our daughter to pass her written driving exam on the first try. The incentive? A cell phone. She studied hard and passed the test. She was elated. So, the responsibility of teaching her to drive in town lies with my husband and me.

The first time she drove me, my husband called to inquire about it. It was terrifying. I would rather ride Powder Keg at Silver Dollar City than ride with my 14-year-old on the open roads of Fayetteville, Ark. She drives like Grandma Moses and isn’t afraid to come to a complete stop on a busy highway. Scares. Me. To. Death. I know she’ll get better with more practice, but it’s added some gray to my hair and shaved a few years off my life.

Thank goodness for taking plenty of country backroads home every day. Our New Year’s resolution is to make a safe driver out of this girl. Blessings to you and yours. If you see us out on the road, get out of the way, neighbor!

Jody Harris is a freelance communications specialist, gardener, ranch wife and mother of four. She and her family raise Angus beef cattle and other critters on their northwest Arkansas ranch. She is a graduate of Missouri State University. To contact Jody, go to and click on ‘Contact Us.’


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