Saturday, February 6, 2016

My Love Language Is Rodent Removal

Oh you know, it's just a typical Saturday around here.
I'm awoken at the break of dawn to affix a perfect ponytail for my eldest, on her way to her first livestock judging meet (Thanks, Teresa for the lift!). As I stumble down the stairs to say good bye to Anna and Joe (who is also off to chore, take kids to State Degree Interviews and chore again), I am jolted awake, not by a sweet cup of coffee handed to me (which, in reality, Joe had already made the coffee, so that's a win), but the harrowing tale of mouse extraction from our same stupid cupboard that seems to be the Maui of Mouse Culture.

Seriously.

I couldn't have been more happy. You see, Joe's gone for most of the day today, and should I have opened that stupid cabinet to remove my electric skillet to make the Saturday Morning Pancakes and would have seen this mouse, I would have FREAKED THE FREAK OUT.

I hate mice.

hatehatehatehatehatehatehatehate

I know, I know...I have heard it all:

You live on a farm.
There's a ginormous field behind your house.
Mice need a warm place to live.

I get it.

Let me reiterate though:
I hatehatehatehatehatehate mice.

I hate that now I have to clean the cupboard again. Hate that this little one, as it was stuck in the trap gnawed on the cord of my crock pot, because I guess when you're in your final hours, you need to gnaw on something. Maybe I'll understand in my final hours.

Despite my hatred, my love language is assuaged when Joe removes mice without any grandeur. Never is love shown more deeply to me than a mouse extraction without me having to find it first.

So husbands/boyfriends/special life friends, in this month of love, I advise you all to find a simple demonstration of love for your significant other. There are days that something like this can make all the difference.

Side note...don't get any ideas about Valentine's Day, Farmer Joe. I already have a pest man, so jewelry or flowers are just fine. Mice extraction is an every day love demonstration.






Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Looking Back Without Cringing

So.

It's been six years since I started this little blog.

Six years. I will spare you the list of things we have accomplished or changed or whatever, as I tend to skim that part of all other blogs, because a lot happens to a lot of people in even one year's time.

Anyway, six years have passed, over six hundred posts have been written, lots of friends (virtual and IRL...in real life (I learned this term via blogging, too!)) have been made, some posts have been shared and allowed me opportunities I never thought I would have, others, let's just forget them, okay?

I have been so lucky to have this platform. While it's still pretty small in the scope of blogging, I have been able to document our journey as farmers, a family, an advocate, a mother, a working mom; the list goes on and on.

Looking back at older posts is fun. There are so many funny memories, times when I got uber passionate about weird things, and some times cringe at my candor. If there is one thing that I have maintained as I have evolved as a writer, it is that I clearly have the "real" factor. If you meet me in person, my voice is the same as what I write. The End.

However, I have evolved. Looking back, I tended to be quite defensive (some of you are raising your eyebrows at my past tense verb). I felt like agriculture needed to be defended, and I was just the gal to do it. Front lines. Livestock. Little kids. Trendy boots. I could do it. What I have learned, however, in my later years of blogging is that no one wants to read something with a defensive tone. I take that back, only crazy commenters who will attack you and all that you stand for, are the ones who want to have a defensive post be shared all over the Internet. Reading some of my earlier posts makes me cringe at my tone, and I am still working on it. I want people to know our story. Hear our story, and will ultimately understand our story. However, where I live is completely different from where you may live, so how in the world can you understand my life with a freezer full of beef that was once named by my kids (sorry newbies, I know, ewww). How can I do anything but sound judgmental to those of you who have chosen a different way of eating, living, believing when I am just sitting here in my house in rural Illinois. My point is, I have been trying to perfect the art of advocating through understanding. It's hard, but I'm working on it.

My early blogging life had me reacting to every story in agriculture that had anything negative or bad or whatever. While it is important to keep all bad press at the forefront, bad press is sometimes just press. Slow news day, knee jerk reactions to what's going on in the first world problem filled world we live in. Maybe it's because I have one year old twins who are currently trying to type with me and/or unload the desk at where I am seated (yikes), or maybe it's because I just can't keep up, but I am trying to listen, react appropriately, and pose a response that is specific to our life and can be applied to others without seeming too obnoxious. Does this make sense? Life is too short to be offended by everything, so if you ever disagree with me, please know that I hear you, and I have my beliefs, and you have yours. If you leave a negative comment, thanks for reading, but I will not necessarily respond because Mama doesn't have time for negativity. My early blogging self would take this to heart, worry for days, and pose a crazy response that would end up sounding grouchy. Now, whatevs, friends. Let's all stand underneath the umbrella of peace.

Finally, I am trying to use my (very limited) power for good. I have been asked to write or speak or respond to many, many things. I like that my blog is pretty organic (for lack of a better term). I would love for someone to come to me and offer me piles of cash so that I can write for a living, but I will share with you that (thanks also to the wise counsel of my blogging friends), I have learned to say "no" to those who are not in line with my beliefs and values, and enjoy and embrace the voice I have. I remember an early conversation with my brother in law about what my goal was with my blog. "The Today Show?" I remember him asking. Don't get me wrong, YES TODAY SHOW, please have me come on and be a part of your group, but that's not necessarily the ultimate goal. I am still unsure of my goal. A book? Yes. A regular podcast? Yes. A better website? YES! It's coming soon. All these things, but I will share with you that this voice I have uncovered has helped me navigate just being a mom, figuring out the ag world, and understanding people and how our relationships have evolved since the dawn of the digital age.

So, I can look back without cringing. I love posts about my babies who were not born. I love reading about our life with calves in our gross basement (which is now quite lovely). I love the friendships I have forged, the people who share and are fans, and I thank you so much for these six wonderful blogging years.

Here's to six or sixteen or sixty cringe-less years more!
























Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Lather, Rinse, Repeat

Can anybody else relate to this as their schedule right now?
Can I get an Amen from all the parents of littles out there?
As long as we keep everything churning around here on a predictable schedule (get up, work out, breakfast, make lunches, clean up, catch bus, little kid breakfast, clean up, dressed for preschool, preschool drop off, errands or clean up or both, preschool pick up, lunch, clean up, naps, clean up, laundry, laundry, laundry, school bus drop off, snack, homework, lesson run, clean up, laundry, lesson pick up, dinner, clean up, baths, laundry, stories, bed time, fall in a heap until you do it all over again!!) life moves pretty smoothly for us.

However, blogging and advocating and speaking to someone over the age of 11 (besides Farmer Joe, my mom, and Kathleen--LOOK YOU MADE IT!!) just hasn't been happening lately. It's not that there have been a lack of stories out there. January may be for changes and new outlooks, but PETA is back again, and I refuse to link anything about them because while they can talk about FFA, they're speaking to their choir and are big babies. Who do love animals, and hate leather, but whatever.

Life on our farm right now is pretty quiet. While a few years ago, we'd be in the absolute thick of calving, which is another "lather, rinse, repeat" process (ideally), we only have a few heifers who are ready to go. Having, say, seven heifers as opposed to seventy five or one hundred makes a big difference in one's life.

And our stories.

And plans to do fun things like go with your husband to pick out a new washer and dryer.

Did you notice the presence of "laundry" in my schedule? It has been absent for a few days, but friends nothing says GET EXCITED more than a new washer/dryer combo and the promise of a redo of your laundry room!

Congrats on being an official adult, Emily.

Friends, hear this. I love writing. In fact, I have written a lot lately, just not published. While writing makes me think harder, connects me to the outside world, makes me appear to be funny, it also can make the extremely opinionated and freakishly weird Emily rear her ugly and loud head! So, I turned into Goldilocks this January. This post was too long; this one was too preachy; this one was too much; too this, too that. So, I just let them sit and fester and then realize I haven't shared anything in weeks, sans a Facebook post regarding smartphone use that really made me appear quite judgmental, when I was just making an observation. But, whateves. That explanation post will remain in the dark hollows of "preachy posts," and will never be read aloud above a whisper.

You're welcome.

Back to life as a blogger: When you factor in the twin one year olds who dismantle anything while you're trying to complete a grammatically correct thought, you've got yourself a CRAPPY BLOG POST. There will be a day, I know. Today even, I was told not to blink, they'll be out of the house sooner than later. I reminded this sweet friend that I have had a toddler/baby for now 11 years, so I am going to go ahead and start blinking.

My eyes are dry.

Anyway, I promise there's new and exciting things on the horizon. January may be a time that I feel isolated and life appears repetitive, but I have been in the works with various folks about this blog, my voice online, and all the exciting things that come with it.

Read: Work that doesn't pay for food on the table, but feeds my soul.

Which is important.

Almost as much as a working washing machine.


Monday, January 18, 2016

While I Do Enjoy Seasons, Freezing My Face Is NOT My Favorite

So today's high is a whopping 5 degrees. Factor in the windchill, and you've got yourself some fun times when it's MLK Day, everyone's home, exercise class is cancelled, and you sold your treadmill.

Have I ever mentioned to you that I am a better person when I MOVE?

Couple this with a good ol' fashioned weight loss challenge amongst friends and you've got yourself a recipe for some crabbiness!

No, I'm NEVER that way.

Just kidding.

I'm ALWAYS this way.

Anyway, back to the weather. While we're enjoying this clear, crisp winter season, my parents have just landed in sunny and humid Panama. Humid as in, squeegeeing off the walls for fungus, humid. While I would love to visit the modern marvel that is the Panama Canal, I can't help but think that I would have a Monica Gellar moment with my hair.

My fanciest hair product and my CHI flat iron would be no match to the Panamanian humidity.

Regardless, I am not there, my parents are, and if I can get a moment to actually talk to them about it before I completely ditch my kids to go somewhere alone once they get back, I'll have a good ol' Q&A post for you.

They are with the Corn Growers on this trip. Another couple we know traveled with Pioneer. Friends have just come home from American Farm Bureau in Orlando. San Diego is the destination of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association Conference.

And my big question is, "When AM I GOING TO GET TO GO?"

Answer: in 2036, maybe.

Tis the season for farmers to head south for meetings and such. Well, those farmers who don't have calves to pull and pigs to tend to during these wretchedly cold temps.

Commodity groups, seed companies, chemical companies, they all send different folks to different places to represent, inform and entertain. A skeptical onlooker may think that these corporate dollars spent on farmers and trips may seem a little shady, but to these folks I say, what are the perks that come with self employment as a farmer?

Answer: Hardly any.

While a city job may come with a few weeks of paid vacation,  a company car, insurance, self employed farmers have it a little less cushy. I'm not insinuating that folks with desks jobs have it sweet. I realize you work hard for your money and perks, but when we were farming full time, our perks included a seed corn cap, an occasional sweatshirt, a cooler, and maybe, maybe a dinner of appreciation (only to be followed by a plot tour).

So to those of you who represent your Farm Bureau or are headed on a commodity group tour abroad, to you I say, bon voyage!
Utilize your perks. See how other folks farm, govern, live. Enjoy your time away from the bone chilling grind that is farming.

I'll just be here.

Freezing my face off. Dreaming of humidity.


Saturday, January 9, 2016

Because I Prefer Blanket Scarves to Blanket Statements

Oh friends. It's January.
Sweet, sweet January in Illinois.
Bleak. 
Muddy (currently).
Soon-to-be-cold-as-a-well-digger's-a$$ (Thank Farmer Joe for that phrase!).

And full of new beginnings. Am I right?

While January out my window has the appearance of bleakness, I believe that January is a time when we all try to get our stuff together. Or is it just me? Maybe it's just those of us who are cooped up in our houses in the bleak January weather, but I have seen so many organization challenges, ab challenges, weight loss challenges, Bible reading challenges, even what to wear challenges.

While I tend to do a little more organizing and eating better in January, I detest these blanket statements. Headlines ripped from gripping periodicals such as Better Homes and Gardens (I kid), claiming to organize your house in 30 days and keep it that way. While I consider myself pretty organized, I have seven other people in my house who rarely understand the system I employ.

Then there are the friends who are challenging me to try a new nutritional/energy/vitamin/exercise/mood enhancer/whatever. This latest thing that will give me more energy and have me moving faster and sleeping better in no time.
Really?
Again, I have seven other people in my house who don't appreciate that I get up at 4:30 in the morning to workout to increase my fitness when they come in to tell me they need to use the potty, or cry, or have a nightmare and need to sleep in between Farmer Joe and me. I don't know if a nutritional system will help me with my energy until about 2026. I'll talk to you then.

I guess my point is, I really, really, really do not believe in a one-sized fits all anything. Blanket statements are something that I try to avoid. Blanket scarves...another story. Have you tried these?

No this not me, and YES I hold my hair like this all.the.time! Ha!
{image via kissmedarlingblogspot.com}


Amazing.

I'm digressing.

Anyway, this goes along with agriculture advocacy and my plight to be more positive in 2016. Is our food the safest in the world? Probably, but the minute you proclaim that to the entire world, something like the Chipotle Food With {whoops} Integrity philosophy comes crashing down. When I state that cattle farming is totally fine and everyone who does it is doing it with the best intention, there's something I see even on my way to drop off at preschool that makes me go, "What the HECK?"

We have to be careful. A blanket statement is as bulky and covering as a blanket scarf, and thus, covers up flaws, draws attention to something else, makes you wonder what's under.

So while I am trying to be a better version of myself in 2016, I refuse to crumble to the trends of January. Similarly, my advocacy tone is trying to be more soft and funny and less accusatory and angry. I'm trying to understand the trends, but not look back at myself in six months, six years or whatever and regret what I said or did.

Maybe I should rethink the blanket scarf.


Monday, January 4, 2016

When You Thought You Had Posted, But Hadn't

So my 2016 is off with a bang.

I have had so many good, witty post ideas, and as I sat down to write one out this afternoon, I looked at my previous post, and HOLY SMOKES it's been awhile, friends.

So sorry.

I'm sure you spent most of your holiday break wondering if I had died of embarrassment of that unfortunate Christmas Card event.

Or sharing with your family at parties about all the funny things people have done on their Christmas cards.

Maybe?

Or maybe you were just enjoying your holiday celebrations?

Probably the last one.

Anyway, we had a great break. Today is the last sweet day of vacation, and while there was a time today (when I wasn't packing lunches and wasn't finding homework and wasn't waking anyone up) that I thought I could get used to my people being home, I have had to break up three giggling crazy wrestling matches in the time I have written this oh-so-eloquent post that resembles a mom who is tired and constantly interrupted to break up wrestling matches.

Sigh.

I'm digressing.

The world of ag was pretty quiet during the Christmas season, which is a good thing. While the Stanford marching band tried to poke fun at farmers during the Rose Bowl, I refuse to make any offended comments, as I have seen the light, thanks to my friend Katie, from Rural Route 2: The Life and Times of an Illinois Farm Girl. She has challenged us to not spent 2016 feeling offended. She has challenged us to find positives in the agricultural realm.

I think that's a pretty good challenge.

A resolution, if you will.

Either way, her post, which you can find here, has sparked me to take a look at how I view pretty much every issue from food to Facebook to farming. I need to calm the heck down. I need to quit worrying about my life in comparison to someone's highlights, filtered pictures with cute captions. I need to quit wasting energy on ways to fight the fight, while it is usually intended to be a good fight, and just continue to tell our story as it unfolds. Boy has it unfolded... why waste energy on seeking drama when I have six kids! I need to view the progress advocates in agriculture have made, friendships it has forged and happiness it has brought us rather than freak out about some extremist's viewpoint who is usually just loud and misinformed.

So.

There you go.

Here's to 2016, my friends. May you keep positive; write the date correctly on checks sooner than later, and remember the good times or storms that were weathered in 2015.

Let's do this.



Wednesday, December 23, 2015

A Very Public Reminder that I Don't Have it All Together

So I just ate Chex Mix for lunch. After I ran, so don't be too judge-judgy.

It's the first day of vacation for the holiday break, and a day that I have spent mostly in the kitchen (thus the Chex Mix and the run!). I have been a little stressed today, to say the least, as we're down to the wire until the Big Guy comes and makes his presents (get it?? That's not a typo.) known!

Last night, as I was rejoicing in the fact that we finally got a Christmas tree (see previous posts about one year old destructive and curious twins and the other one about a loss in our family, and you'll understand), and humming along to Christmas music as I made dinner, I felt together. At peace. Ready for the season to truly begin.

Then, Joe received what started as hilarious and ended as an utterly embarrassing stream of text messages.

We had just sent out our beautifully, seemingly perfect Christmas cards. They were to arrive on the doorsteps of friends and family BEFORE Christmas. Whew.

However, this text made my Christmas daze of awesomeness come to a screeching halt.

The text asked if Jack was sending out his own Christmas card.

Huh?

Friends, I am not the Christmas card person in our family. Until last year, we sent a letter that Joe wrote. He takes the Excel sheet and updates addresses. He's the one to lead this. However, it was a busy time for him, and since we weren't doing a letter this year, I took the reigns.

And forgot a KID.

Friends, I FORGOT OUR SON'S NAME ON OUR CHRISTMAS CARD.

GAH.

The good news is, it's on the back, as we have so many lovely people in our family, we couldn't fit on the front. So, if you didn't even flip our card over, you wouldn't have even noticed. I also have heard some really awesome "oops" stories, thanks to my posting on Facebook the card and my owning my error.

However, it's moments like this that just make me shake my head at myself.

I do not have it all together.

Ever.

I may appear to at times.

But generally, it's just a facade.

This incident, to be known know as "The Year We Forgot Jack on the Christmas Card," will be a constant reminder that I am not together. I forget things, try as I may to not. I multitask to the extreme, and forget to double check things.

I'm human, and thus, a mess at times.

However, I am going to just own it, either way.
Yes, there are a lot of us.
Yes, I probably was holding someone or helping someone while I was working on Shutterfly.
Yes, I should have been more careful, and YES this is not a big deal in the grand scheme. It will make for a great story, and it will also wake a mother up at night, and possibly come out in therapy for our "forgotten boy."

Gah, again.

In light of this very public reminder that I am INSANELY HUMAN, I wish you all the Merriest of Christmas. I wish you peace and love in the time when we celebrate God who became Man. Our celebration is about the Son of God who came to us to be our Savior. During this celebration, may you remember that this time is not about a perfect Christmas card, it's about remembering those who are important in your life.

Even if you forgot his name on the card.

Wishing you a blessed holiday season!
Joe, Emily, Anna, Josie, Amelia, JACK, Mary & Caroline