Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Do You Know the Food Babe?

Have you ever heard of The Food Babe? Maybe you follow her on Facebook. Maybe you have seen her on the Today Show, NBC Chicago, and the like? Maybe you've seen this graphic that was crafted to scare all of you pumpkin spice latte drinkers:


and this one:




I don't know much about the Food Babe, other than there is not a time in my life that I have ever been considered a "babe," and much less would want to be professionally known as a "babe."

I also know, just from briefly perusing her website and reading the words, "Monsanto Milk" on this graphic, that while we may share interest in keeping our families healthy, obviously use a nice flat iron, and maybe would have been in a class or sorority together in college or a something like that, we do not agree on food production and consumption. We maybe would be Facebook friends, but after reading some of her insights that are rather one-sided and ill researched, I would hide her. I'm not an unfriender, just a hider…I know, passive aggressive. I tend to err on the side of my grandma, who is 100 and still living in her own home, sharp as a tack. She would choose water over this latte, but if she had one, she'd probably not keel over, as the Food Babe is suggesting by her marketing.

Anyway, back to the graphic: Do you see the trendiness? Do you see that she mentions there may not be real pumpkin in this latte? Umm…no kidding. That's why it's called flavoring. It's a version. And
"possible pesticide residue" because the beans were not organic. Possible.

Again, I haven't done much research on this woman, and perhaps she has a zillion degrees in nutrition and food science, but I'm just guessing that she is trying to scare the pants off of you to get you to join her #FoodBabeArmy and reap the benefits of a good blog following.

That's just my assumption, and I would be happy to change my tune if necessary.

So this is the beginning of my research. Do you follow the Food Babe? Why? Are you a believer in her research? Do you think she's onto something? Do you follow her to disagree with her? What's her secret to getting her #FoodBabeArmy, and where's the agricultural antithesis of this?

I'm getting to the bottom of it, my friends, as I'm curious.

And I may have mentioned in a previous post, I had a mocha today…and it wasn't vegan, or decaffeinated, yet it was delicious.

Fall? Really?

It's true.

It's becoming more and more fall-ish every single day, and I couldn't be happier. A day like today makes me want to head to a college campus and soak up the atmosphere. Is it weird how I crave to be on a college campus during this time of year? Is anyone else like that? Does anyone else crave college football and walks amongst brick buildings on a quad during this time of year?

No?

How about boots with skinny jeans?

A little more?

How about harvesting a field of corn or soybeans?

That's better…that's what this blog is about.

Anyway, our fall is a little trickier than usual, as you can imagine, if you're a faithful reader. All of our ducks have been in a row to fall in such a way that we'd have our house construction at a reasonable place when our babies were coming, and then harvest could start, and we'd be all good.

Wrong.

But, again, this is not a whiny post ( I know, shocker…I treated myself to a leaded (read: not decaffeinated) mocha today, shhhhh…so I'm hopped up on goof balls), this is a fall post, and an I LOVE FALL post at that.

I really don't have much agricultural progress to report. We are all a little nervous around here, and I have heard the phrase "stalk integrity" uttered more than once. The corn prices are down, and with that, we're hoping that this corn crop will not literally fall down, thanks to the wet late summer. We're basically one bad windstorm away from downed corn, so the farmers on my side of the world are hoping that we can just hold our breath and utter prayers strong enough to keep the corn up while the breeze dries the muddy soil.

But back to fall…beautiful, crisp fall. Fall with your colors, your pumpkins, mums, boots with jeans and combines and college football. Fall…please do not disappoint. Please keep this weather like today, and keep our spirits alive that we can do all that needs to be done before the winter months take hold.

Please?

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Overwhelmed

This has been a strange week.

We have settled into a school routine, but the kids are exhausted.

Joe has settled into being a teacher and farmer, but that's a lot, and I mean A LOT. There's so much to do, and only 24 hours a day. I'm not the help on the farm farm wife, either, especially now, considering I can't even bend over or stand for long periods of time, so I can only make him a nice dinner (when I don't feel like crying from exhaustion of the end of the twin pregnancy) and sympathize.

That doesn't help when there's chores to be done.

To top it all off, it's raining and raining and raining, so that's kind of brought everyone down (sorry friends who are out west and dry). Our house looks like someone took a bulldozer to it, intending to work on it, but since it's still raining, and will continue to do so the rest of today, no one is working…so we look like someone had good intentions of construction, but maybe forgot about it. In other words, ghetto superstar is the perfect name for our homestead right now.

Then, we've had too many lives taken from us this week. A church friend's husband lost his battle with cancer, but leaves behind children ranging in age from 20s to 5. A dear co-worker's son died Sunday, unexpectedly and tragically. A long time church member and fixture in the community died, after a full life, but still sad when one reflects upon losing someone who was always there and active.

Life seems overwhelming right now.

We're at the cusp of harvest, and that feels somewhat overwhelming, but we have so much else going on, I hardly can wrap my head around the fact that the beans are turning and the corn is turning "orange" as Jack says, otherwise known as getting ready to harvest.

Overwhelming joy, too, in the midst of this stress. We're (oh who am I kidding… I am) nearing the end of this pregnancy. In roughly 6 weeks, our twins will be here, and although overwhelmed doesn't even begin to describe the feelings I have in regards to giving birth and bringing home two infants, we have been overwhelmed with joyful friends, generous gifts and fun parties for our babies. It's been a fun couple of weekends with friends and family. I only have pictures from my "friend" shower…but Joe's family threw me one, too…luckily I was wearing the same outfit, so I could pass this off as both! Ha! The joys of only a few items still fitting!!
With two of my bests…the hostesses, Kathleen and Rachel

All the "mums" who either had twins or six kids in their families.

One of my college buddies, Sunny.

My teaching partner-in-crime, former roommate, fellow twin mom, and always entertaining friend, Andrea. 

Josie and Amelia modeling the scarf my co-worker CJ made! They were pumped to be at a "fancy party."

Overwhelmed in a good way.

While my house right now is not ready for the babies in the way that it should be, according to babycenter.com…who is telling me via shaming emails that I should be prepping the nursery. Uhhhh…prepping our nursery means moving the changing table to the hallway and the dresser to the nook where our dress up basket used to be…we're ready enough. I'm not getting overwhelmed with those logistics, because if I start to think about that, I'll remember the overwhelming feeling that I have no control over the weather, and thus no control over our construction, and thus will have no control over the never ending harvest that will probably ensue thanks to this crazy amount of moisture.

Deep breaths.

Anyway, we are overwhelmed, in good ways and not so good, but it's nothing that we can't handle. It's nothing that won't make us look back in 10 years and laugh…potentially.

This is a time in our lives when energy is low and emotions are high. Time is limited, and work is mounting. While Joe is trying to figure out how to balance work and farm and kids and me…I just want  some help cleaning out the garage so that I can nest some more, because that's important. Note the sarcasm.

Friends, we covet your prayers during these fall months. It's overwhelming to see the support our friends and family are giving us, but if you could just whisper a good thought to us once in awhile, we'd be grateful.

Overwhelmingly grateful.



Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Turn, Turn, Turn

Fall is coming, I can feel it.

Even though it's supposed to be hotter than the bowels of hell tomorrow, I can feel it. I saw it. 55 for an evening low. 75 for a daytime high.

Come on, please fall…I need you to come so I can quit sweating just walking to the garage (that could be my "current state," but nevertheless).

Labor Day marks the end of summer, right? We spent that day pretending it was summer, lazing around at the pool, but now it's closed, our suits and towels are tucked away for the season, and it's time to get fall going.

Then today…This:
This truly marked the beginning of a new season. Our boy started preschool. Although he has truly been clingy and hasn't been transitioning from one thing to another lately, he did great. He was excited to go, and even more excited to pick up lunch and surprise Daddy at school today, chatting the whole time about Circle Time, Play Time, and the ever-important Snack Time. Happy, happy times for this happy, happy boy.

We'll see what tomorrow brings.

Life on the farm here is transitioning, too. Just a few weeks ago, we were remarking at how green everything still looked. Now, however, the corn is starting to turn. Silks are browning up, the lush green is now more of a light green fading to brown. It won't be long. 

The beans are a different story. I'm no agronomist, but from the table talk here, the wet late summer has been hard on our little friends. Sudden death is popping up in fields around us. And for those of you who are wondering what sudden death means…it's just that. Suddenly dying beans. There's more science to it, but it's never good.

But, it's not much, and we're starting to dry out, so that's a good thing.

Fall will be here before we know it. Time for boots and sweaters and legitimate hot chocolate (my kids like to drink it at church when it's 95 outside after services…ick.). Things will change. Leaves will change, crops will change, our life will change.

To everything…turn, turn, turn.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Facebook Just Chastised Me

Thank you, Facebook.

Not only do you make me feel as if I'm not vacationing enough, spending enough "family time #makingmemories," and taking artful Instagram pictures of it, now you're chastising me for not posting on my blog's page.

Honestly.

It's Labor Day, for heaven's sake! That's just what you want to wake up to, as you're checking emails in the morning…a virtual wrist slap that you've been a slacking blogger.

Pardon me for gestating twins, starting school, trying to ready our house to be jacked up, and chasing after four children.

Sheesh.

Anyway, thank you, Facebook for the chastising, and here's some random updates and thoughts that I'm sure you've been wondering about…

1) Twins: Just 6-8 more weeks left. The end.

2) School: All children will be in school as of this week! Jack heads to preschool for a few precious hours three days a week, and while I have read a lot of blogs about the sad moms who are sending their sweet babes to the wolves…I mean teachers…at the beginning of school, I'm more like these people.

I love my children, but they need to be on a schedule that is not just imposed by me. They need to be off the farm, with their peers, learning all the wonderful things that come with school. Like this.

3) Farmer Joe, aka, Mr. Webel: Joe has enjoyed the exhausting first two weeks of school. Truly. This is a good thing for him to be back with the people. He's doing great, and is having to juggle a lot. Chores in the morning and evening, a clingy three year old who is used to him waltzing in and out during the day, and all the extras that come with being an ag teacher and FFA advisor: namely, a pedal pull during a family party that he had to miss. Bummer. However, it's all good. We look at each other often and comment on how in the world we're going to do all what we're planning on doing in the next few weeks, but we just keep plugging away. These are all good things. Everything we're encountering will only be a blessing in the end. That's what keeps us going and going and going.

4) The final hurrah of the summer: In honor of Labor Day, I'm hopeful to waddle my happy rear to the Country Club pool for one last float. However, we're at the mercy of the potential for rain showers (STOP RAINING…we have construction to commence), the lawn needing to be mowed, and a steer to be washed and clipped for the final show/sale of the year. Anna has one more steer show in town this weekend, and Anna is struggling a bit. It's hard to get excited about this show. It's small. It's late in the season. It's right next to a railroad track where trains go by during the show and freak out the cattle, and Anna's steer can err on the side of jumpy. There will not be a lot of love loss when she sells him this weekend. However, this is not always the case. Our dear friends came to visit yesterday, and when their sweet boy had to sell his steer, lots of tears were shed, lots of explaining had to be done, and there's been some really great blogs about this same situation. It's the circle of life of a show animal, but when you have invested time, money and energy in caring for an animal, thinking about selling it to market is a hard pill to swallow for a 9 year old. Read this for a great perspective by my friend Holly's friend Christy. Did you get that???

And then read this, and get just as ticked off and roll your eyes about one thousand times for how one sided and Hee Haw showing animals STILL is seen as. And then…read this response, because it's awesome.

So there you go, friends…my life in a list. I hope this quells Facebook's reminder app.

Happy Labor Day.



Friday, August 15, 2014

The Majority Heads to School

Like everyone, I'm sure, you've seen a lot of cute pictures on Facebook, showcasing new backpacks, new running shoes, a new year.

We did the same. It's been an exciting day so far, and it's only 8:15. My girls headed to school: a fourth grader (who has a new, excited, and YOUNG teacher. I think I could be her mother.), a second grader (who's best friend is in the SAME CLASS!!!), and--deep breath--a KINDERGARTENER!! Amelia is ready for kindergarten, but is kindergarten ready for her???

However, the biggest excitement (despite the fact that I will only have ONE child at home for a few weeks…before I have two more, but whatever.), is that Joe has headed back to the classroom as well! Yes, Farmer Joe, my farmer, has made a leap into the educational world, after 7 years of "just farming" (side note: I hate saying, "just farming," because farming is full time and hard work, but when we started our endeavor as a farm family, it was to be on a semi-part time basis with a steady job and paycheck on the side. Hopefully, I haven't offended any full timers, because, believe me, I get it.). Anyway, Joe started his career 15 years ago as an ag teacher. He loved it. He was good at it. He was moved up the "ladder," so to speak, until the economy tanked, and schools ran out of money to hire his services. He not only taught kids in the classroom, but he supervised teachers in the state of Illinois, and then moved on to develop curriculum and trained teachers across the country…from Delaware to California to Texas. He presented in front of the USDA in Washington, DC…he was a big deal. He is a big deal, and this step back into the classroom makes me want to BURST with pride. 

My dude is a smart one, and it's time for him to show it to the community. 

Plus, he's pretty cute. Please tell me you like his pattern-on-pattern tie…he wasn't convinced, but like a good husband, he wore it!! 

So the majority of my house was gone by 7:30, and that is just plain strange. A good strange. Although it's weird to have Amelia, Jack's partner in crime, gone all day, I'm not the mom that cries at the bus stop. I am made of steel, friends…just kidding. However, I taught. I know that the girls are getting the best love and the great experiences all kids need in school. I loved school, too, even though I cried every day of first grade, but we won't go into that today. I loved it so much that I became a teacher. I think that's another reason why I'm so excited for Joe to start his new chapter. As a teacher, I bloomed. I made lifelong friends with my colleagues and parents. Heck, they even bought me diamond earrings for my wedding day…that's the type of relationships I had as a teacher. I'm so hopeful that Joe will find that bond with his fellow staffers, as being a farmer can be a lonely profession. 

This is going to be good.

So, we have a big day, my boy and I, as the majority is out of here. Right now, he's singing as he watches for birds in his Batman cape. He needs this time, too, before more changes rock his world, but for now, I'm so excited that my people have embarked on another year…and it's not just because I don't have to make lunch for more than two people.

Happy first day of school, my loves.







Tuesday, August 12, 2014

When Did Canned Food Drives Become Controversial?

Oh friends.

It's the last week of summer vacation here, and like the last few days of summer fun, my spark has waned. Maybe it's because I'm entering the hardest part of carrying twins. Maybe it's because I'm ready for a change. Maybe it's just because there are times I want to just beat my head against a wall because I feel as if I STILL can't advocate for conventional agriculture properly.

Case in point: yesterday. As I sat at a staff meeting at work, hearing all the great things our United Way staffers have been working on (have I ever mentioned how great it is to work for an organization that, with the help of the community and generous corporate matches raises roughly 12 million dollars a year? In just PEORIA, Illinois? That's pretty impressive.), we reached the point in our meeting where we discussed our rather large scale food drive that is organized in conjunction with our campaign's kickoff.

A very sweet lady on our staff raised her hand then and asked if we could please have the grocery stores and drop off points specify that we would prefer organic canned goods so that, and I quote, "healthy foods can go into our family's mouths."

Say WHAT?

As I sat there, with a few glances from some coworkers who know me well and read this blog…I froze. This was work. This was where I was a literacy project manager, not an agriculture advocate. However, my life as a spokesperson (well, the few years anyway) flashed before my eyes. Yet, I was frozen. FROZEN. Both of my bosses were there at the table, do I dare create waves? And was she SERIOUS? Isn't a canned tomato a canned tomato, and not a bag of Fritos? And weren't we feeding the hungry? Would they really turn down a food donation bag if it were all conventionally produced.

My head was swimming, and for what seemed like hours, I sat there, mouth agape, and still receiving looks like, "you're going to say something, aren't you?"

Finally, I pulled myself together and said something like, "As a conventional agriculturalist, I absolutely disagree with this, food is food."

And that was it.

Now, if you know me, I am rarely at a loss for words, but I hardly knew where to begin, and again, I WAS AT WORK. And since when did canned food drives become a battle ground for conventional vs. organic food? And WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME? Why couldn't I speak up for myself, our plight, our beliefs, research I have quoted…

Ugh.

I blame it on pregnancy, but in reality, it was because I felt painted in a corner. I wasn't sure how to approach the topic in a staff meeting. It wasn't the appropriate time to have a discussion about organic vs. conventional practice and choice and statistics, etc. Even though I was frustrated about my lack of a poignant statement in regards to the food wars, I guess what frustrated me was that what she was suggesting that we, as a staff, as a marketing campaign, to market a more "healthy" campaign to our very generous donors of food. A choice was asked to be set out in the forefront of the canned food drive, and it was one that was based on false pretenses.

Now, I'm NOT contending that you're not allowed to go out and buy canned organic tomatoes and give them to the needy. I'm not contending that organic farmers are any less of a farmer than we are, but to market it as more healthy is FALSE. A tomato is a tomato. Wash it, peel it, cook it, dump it out of the can. It doesn't take a powerful statement to plead the case that a can of tomatoes (organic or conventional) in a food pantry basket is more healthy for a family than Cheetos or shells and processed cheese. However, to market it as healthy from a non-agricultural perspective, just an emotional plea is FALSE.

So why couldn't I have said that yesterday?

Oh well. The food controversy wages on, my friends, and it's not just what you put in your basket for your mouth. We're moving onto the needy.

So much more work to be done…if I just had the energy.