HAMLIN COUNTY, SD - She unseated a popular incumbent and now Representative Kristi Noem is a rising star in the Republican Party in Congress.  But when she returns home from Washington, D.C., Noem takes off her business suit, puts on her jeans and cowboy boots to run a ranch and take care of her three children.

It's a Friday night in the Noem home and Kristi's made a roast. This dinner table scene is just like thousands of others being played out across the state, only in this case mom is a little more well known.

"It is kind of like two different worlds I feel like I'm living in; Washington, D.C., has a whole different schedule, lifestyle, different work out there. When I come back here is when I get to participate in real life." Noem said.

Noem spends several days a week in Washington, D.C., and then more time traveling across the state. But she says that doesn't keep her from spending time with her three kids: 17-year-old Kassidy, 14-year-old Kennedy and 8-year-old Booker.

"I have them come with me a lot. If we go to Lincoln Day dinners, a meeting or a flood meeting, I have them come along. For me, that's family time," Noem said.

When she is in Washington, Noem uses modern technology to stay in touch with her kids and husband, Bryon.

"Yeah, we miss her a lot. But we get to talk to her and Skype her and all that kind of stuff," Kassidy Noem said.

"One night when I was in D.C., I was going to do a TV show on a network and Cassidy texted me and said, 'Good job, mom.' I said, 'Wait a minute.  It's a Friday night and you're watching the news?'" Noem said.

But there's no doubt, when Noem isn't here, her husband picks up the slack.

"The hardest thing about it is not having mom around and dad trying to be mom; doesn't work very good. And dad's not quite as compassionate as mom, probably. That's the hardest thing about it," Bryon Noem said.

Noem may be a rising star in the Republican Party in Washington, but when she gets back home to the ranch, it's back to the daily chores.

"Coming back to the ranch, putting in fence for the weekend, working with the animals. I want them to see us doing that and doing that as a family. The day we built the mile of fence over on the west side, it rained. It was windy. It was miserable and it took forever," Noem said.

Four years ago, Noem and her husband tore down an old drafty farmhouse and built a new house at their ranch. She says the Rakota Valley Ranch is in her blood.

"I have loved this place since my dad bought it when I was little. I remember driving in the yard with him and saying, 'I want to live here someday,'" Noem said.

Noem sold the cattle to allow more time for her campaign. Now, there are just horses on this ranch.

"Got some gophers we need to shoot out here," Noem said

But just because Noem seems to easily slip between the two worlds, it doesn't mean she hasn't missed a few big family moments along the way.

"Some track meets; I missed prom. I got there after prom was over. I got to go to school and see Kassidy at about midnight that night when I got home," Noem said.

"I understand, but I'd like to have her there. She tries her best to be at everything and that's what I appreciate the most," Kassidy said.

But you can throw one more wrench in that hectic schedule. Noem, who faced criticism during the campaign for not completing her college degree, has gone back to school finish up, hopefully in December.

"It's really tough to always have something else to do and be that busy. But I really do enjoy it. I enjoy learning new things; the reading materials. Now at this point in my life, I appreciate the classes more than I did when I was younger," Noem said.

Noem says she's used to being busy and says she can successfully manage all the aspects of her life, both public and private.

"It's a lot of things on your plate. I don't know a mom that doesn't have a lot of things to juggle. Almost everyone I know is busy. We're raising kids; we have different jobs or things taking up our time. I don't get to do as much as I used to do," Noem said.

But Bryon says he never doubted that his wife was meant for great things.

"Yeah, and I still married her even though I knew she'd probably do something like this someday. No, I knew she had a special calling in her life and I remember going back all through our marriage and she said, 'I just feel like I'm called to do something big.'  And then when she got on the FSA board, I thought this is the big thing, and when she got on state legislature, I thought that was the big thing. And I'm hoping this is the big thing, this is the big thing she's called to do, but who knows," Bryon said.

The Noems say no matter where Kristi's political career takes her, they plan to stay grounded.

"We do not want to become thinking we're a big deal. She's not that way. We don't want to become that way. We are here.  We live in South Dakota, we're from South Dakota and we'll remain that way. We're going to go talk to people in the restaurant, go to a movie, go to church; we're going to be normal," Bryon said.

"It's hard sometimes to get on a plane and fly to Washington, D.C. It's definitely confirmed to me that I'm not a city girl. I enjoy coming home every weekend. I recognize the importance of the work that's out there and the fact we need people who recognize the value of a rural lifestyle and recognize how wonderful this lifestyle is in South Dakota that we go out there to protect it," Noem said.

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