Thursday, October 30, 2014

If You Can See God's Hand in It, Then Why Is It So Hard?

First of all, I'm not Job. If you're struggling, and you're not a Bible reader, read the book of Job, then you'll feel like you're just whining about the dirt on your kitchen floor.

However, everyone has issues, am I right? Some are better at hiding them via a flat iron and eyeliner and a cute outfit (ahem), and some are an open book train wreck at all times. Either way, we're all in this world for a purpose, I believe, and it's a Godly one.

So, then, why is it that I feel like at times God's hand is guiding me, and yet, it's so stinking bizarre and hard and roundabout?

Let's back up. It's been a year, friends. We're nearing the one year mark of losing Joe's mom to cancer. Her birthday was last week. Her fingerprints are in our fall traditions, still, one year after her leaving this earth. It's still hard. I'm just the daughter-in-law, but having the babies without Karma was something surreal.

Then, move into our jobs. Joe has changed professions...well, gone back to his original profession. I have left my professional path...again, and then there's the whole "do we keep farming or not."

That question is for another post, another day.

Regardless, with the blissful birth of the babies comes sleepless nights, tossing and turning and reconsidering every decision you've made since age 18.

Good times.

I know I'm on the right path; I can feel it, but in the midst of all this chaos...and by chaos, I mean late night groggy feedings, no water softener (and for a Type A Neatfreak, this is enough to push one over the edge), and the hectic time of harvest, one can start to question God's hand and plans for oneself.

Like today.

Joe's selling cattle today, and while I said I would post a more clear picture of this, we're re-inventing ourselves in the field of agriculture. He and his dad worked yesterday loading and sorting, and while part of me is excited for a new chapter, one with more freedom and less risk, why am I so teary?

If this is a part of our plan, then why am I so upset?

The thought of the unpredictability of a new chapter, yes.
The redefinition of ourselves, yes.
Hormones...oh, heck yes.

Either way, God's plan has unfolded in front of us, and unlike that commercial where the insurance agency leads you with a green line, we're searching for something, some direction, some indication that this plan will bring not only glory to Him, but happiness and stability for us.

Selfish, I know, but who doesn't want to be able to say, in nine years, we'll be able to start paying for our daughter's first semester of college (we had the "is Santa real" conversation last night with Anna, and I feel like the next step is sorority rush.)?

In the end, literally and figuratively, we'll be okay. We're not Job. We don't have Ebola. We're not living in a van down by the river. Our kids are healthy...our bills are paid. However, the unknown is strange and uncharted.

So, if you're starting to worry about your path, and wonder if God has a good sense of humor or just likes playing, well, God, remember that with every good, there's a bad.

And would you remind me of that when I start to feel like we need a few cows here and there? Remind me I can go on a vacation or a run without worrying about chores.

There's the light! There's the silver lining! Whoo hoo!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

What Did You Do In the Past Two Weeks?

Hi friends!

According to my calculations (the date on my last post), it's been over two weeks since last we met.

Two weeks.

Seems like two years.

What have you done in the past two weeks? Had a busy time? Enjoyed a pumpkin patch? Harvested or watched someone else harvesting? How about a football game? Today's my alma mater's homecoming...and I'm not there. Again.

Why, you ask?

Well, in the past two weeks, we've had a lot going on. Not only has harvest started around here with equipment coming in and out and all over the place, but we still have our house have we suspended in the air. We have moved out, and then moved back in (only to still be up on should feel this puppy shake when I do a load of towels).

Besides our logistics being a little "up in the air" (pardon the pun), we brought home our most precious portion of the last two weeks last Saturday.

Mary Kathleen and Caroline Suzanne were born a month early, safely, after a pretty scary delivery. I have done this birthing thing before, on my own accord, and when I was kicked out of the hospital October 9th, and then told again by my doctor at my weekly appointment that day that I would be pregnant for another week or so, I was not happy. Not comfortable, not hearing it, and NOT believing it. In fact, by the time we got back to our house, I was contracting. Then, by the time my kids had dinner and were shipped to Grandma's, I was contracting regularly enough that I KNEW it was coming. So, off we went to the hospital again, after a phone call to my doctor where I explained I was NOT going to be kicked out for a false alarm again that night. Babies were coming.

And come they did...just a few minutes after being admitted, my water broke, and we were on our way to a c-section room. I had spoken with my doctor that afternoon about the positioning of the girls, and we agreed, safety first. So, while I was told in my first delivery I was a "born pusher..." uhhhh...thanks?, and that I had delivered naturally four times before, this was a different case.

I will spare you the details, but those of you who have had c-sections can attest that it's major surgery in a scary sterile room. This was completely different and scary for me, but when they delivered Mary, she was as pink and dark headed and YELLING as LOUD as she could, just like my previous children. However, when I was told I needed something to relax to deliver the second baby, and then the look on Joe's face when she came out, I knew this was NOT like my last delivery.

Caroline came out, but had been basically trapped by my contracting uterus (sorry if you're squeamish about this stuff). She was stuck, and while safely delivered, was not breathing and her color was not good. I didn't realize she had been delivered, as the rush of NICU, labor and delivery, and doctors covered her from my sight, but the look on Joe's face told me the story.

And it wasn't good.

For two minutes, which seemed as long as these two weeks, they worked on our precious girl. One of our dearest friends leading the charge (Julie, I love you for saving my girl). She was breathing, with assistance, and for two minutes, we weren't sure. However, she came through, took a big breath on her own (I'm assuming), and both girls were whisked to the NICU.

I spent a good hour in recovery...I think. I was kind of in and out. I was then taken to see my girls in the NICU.

In isolettes.

In different rooms.
Caroline hooked up to a C-PAP machine so I couldn't see her face; Mary covered in monitors so I couldn't touch her.

I know hormones are raging at this point, but any mother who has had to endure this should be given a pass if they are hysterical.

Our girls spend a week at Hotel NICU, at Children's Hospital of Illinois. I will tell you, if you're ever in need of great, and I mean world class care for your infants, this is the place to go. While I had to leave them last Monday, as I was discharged and needed to be with my other kids, too, I knew that the twins were in good hands, and I would get to take them home when they were ready.

Thankfully, last Saturday, they were ready, and we've been home for a week.

Sleep is a distant memory. Space is at a premium, and our hearts are filled with joy of our healthy girls, helpful big kids, and generous and loving friends and family who have fed us, ran our kids around, and just taken good care of us. My mom, especially, deserves a medal. Anna said she was like our cook and chauffeur! It's the truth...she's been amazing, and it's because of her taking my kids to her house this afternoon to play that I am able to crank out this lengthy and rather newsy post!

Anyway, what have YOU done for the past two weeks, huh? I'm competitive in about everything, but these past two weeks and all that have gone on is a competition I was willing to forfeit.

However, life is good. Babies are sweet and content, and we are so blessed.

Thank you for all your prayers, and thanks for your understanding that while I signed up for Holly's post-a-day challenge in November (my series is entitled, Survival), I may be absent, as my life here is full. I'm efficient, but this portion of my life is sucking the efficiency and energy out of me.

However, I AM in pants that zip and button, and ARE NOT MATERNITY!!

Small victories, folks.

Here's some pictures, case you hadn't seen them.

Here's to a less eventful two weeks!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

#iam4H...Now, but not When I Was Really IN It

Oh, sweet, sweet irony.

So, like 20some years ago, I was a member of the Oneida Mix N Fix 4H Club. Cute name, huh? Totally appealed to the dudes and the dudettes, right?

Kind of.

Ask my brother...not so much.

Anyway, I was the president, I think, at one time, went to State Fair in sewing, showed my "Graphic Arts" projects (even though I have NOT ONE SINGLE CRAFTY OR ARTSY BONE IN MY BODY), and even went to the State Fair in Public Speaking for demonstrating how to French Roll one's hair.

Hard hitting, huh?

However, I never really bought into it. I never got involved beyond our little club that met in the basement of the Presbyterian Church. I never held a position, never wanted to be a part of the bigger 4H picture.

Then, sweet, sweet irony stepped in.

Meaning, my daughter.

Anna joined 4H last year, her first year of eligibility. She was pumped. She signed up for her projects, worked hard, and had a really successful first year, scoring blue ribbons, and doing great at the livestock show.

I'd say she's all in, considering she's in year two and is currently the secretary.

Now, our club is not a big one, nor is it a mighty one, but it's a group of kids who meet once a month who are doing something a little different. While the meetings (well, let's be real...the ONE I went to), could be a little jazzier, and we need a 4H flag to "pledge our head to clearer thinking" to (I still know all the words, thankyouverymuch), the basic premise of 4H still stands the test of time.

The motto is: To make the best better.

Seems simple enough, and kind of goes along with Joe's and my parenting philosophy. If you're going to do something, do it and do it WELL. I'm not saying I'm a tiger mom by any stretch of the imagination, but if Anna's going to be in 4H, she's going to actively participate. She's a kid that doesn't have to be coerced into trying something new, or going someplace different, or being a part of a new group. She's also a kid who strives to do her best, always...I credit my perfectionism gene for maybe with the other kids, it will be hard to "make the best better," but for now, Anna is the hashtag for this National 4H Week: #iam4H.

Which just blows my mind, because nowhere in my pre-kid parenting picture was there a 4Her, and NO WHERE was there a mom or a dad who were co-leaders (Joe), and as I sat at the meeting on Sunday, I thought, "You know, if I wasn't so grossly pregnant, I would help out more."

After this summer's showing experience, I see how 4H can benefit a kid and his/her confidence, work ethic, and personal motto. To make the best better shouldn't just apply to making a good heifer the reserve or grand champion, but to work hard to reap the benefits and the satisfaction of just working hard. Not to sound like a grandma, but kids these days are participating in things that are so parent driven, so coached, so structured, that if you had something like oh, a 1000 lb. animal you had to lead around and had to trust you, you'd take the initiative to work hard to not, well, get stepped on, for starters. 4H is different than sports, piano lessons, and the like. It's a choice, a commitment, and a time in your life when you can receive what you sow, so to speak.

So, I guess, because we'll have 6 4Hers for the next 19 years, I need to revisit my opinion and experience in 4H and help my kids see how by participating in this seemingly little part of their lives, they are making the best better for the next generation.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Stereotypes, Harvest, and a Scary House

It's a mixed bag today, friends.

It's Homecoming week at our school, which usually means a dress up day or five, a potential float to be built, and some later nights due to activities at the school. On a normal year, we'd be happily participating, digging through dress up clothes, painting our faces, whatever.

However, we are currently nomads.

Our family has had to move out of our house because of a huge remodel project. And by huge, I mean, our house is currently 3 feet lifted off the old foundation, and being driven under and dug out by skid steers and other digging equipment. My mom and I visited it today.

It's pretty amazing.

And scary.

Looks like a nice home to bring your newborn twins to, right?


However, we're making big progress. This all started last Friday, and we're already talking concrete, footings and dewatering methods. It's all good stuff.

And scary.

And, it's also homecoming, and with a three foot entryway step (with no steps) and a 34 week pregnant mama, getting the kids clothes gathered on a regular day to be packed and then taken to grandma and grandpa's while there's no water and no way to sleep at our own home makes for a challenge.

Good thing one of the days is "Dress Like a Farmer Day."

I write very, very sarcastically.

Yes, I realize our town is Farmington.

Yes, I realize our mascot is the Farmer.

However, seeing what people think farmers look like on a regular day makes me roll my eyes.

Don't get me wrong, I love the pictures of cute little girls in braids and jeans. I love that some of our farmer friends (the occupation, not the mascot) are taking it seriously, and dressing the part how they would be on a regular Wednesday. 

But, come on.

The note from the elementary school says, something to the affect of get out your straw hats and bib overalls.

Maybe it's karma getting me for being pro-Chief Illiniwek, but I get kind of snarly about the "aw shucks, I'm a hick farmer." I have mentioned it before, but our farmers have master's degrees. Our farmers run equipment that is technologically cutting edge, and have to go to classes to learn how to run equipment, to properly apply and use spraying equipment. 


So, forgive me for sending my kids today in their "farmer gear," which meant nice jeans, button downs, and cute cowboy boots. 

No bibs.

No freckles ala Hee Haw.

No straw anything.

Harvest has started for us, as of Monday, so it is fitting that today is "Dress Like a Farmer Day." Because of Joe's current employment, our operation has had to shift a little with duties. The farmers are dressed and rolling happily, as the yields of the crops are bumper (although the prices aren't great), and there have been little issues in the few days we have been rolling. It's an exciting time, for sure, and I would say our farmers are dressed for success right now. Corn is testing well for yields, and our moisture is at 17%, which for all of you who don't know what that's good, considering how wet the past few weeks have been.

Of course, they're calling for rain tomorrow and Friday, so our farmers will be dressed in their pajamas, staring at the radar, hoping for no wind and just a small sprinkle to settle the dust and not set them back.

However, this is not going to rain on our parade! My farmer is wearing his tie and getting a float ready for the parade on Friday, rain or shine. Mr. Webel will be in full FFA mode, despite the scary house, harvest craziness, and an equally insanely uncomfortable wife. 

My farmers are dressed the part, just not the stupid stereotype that the world insists on keeping up in our little town with our hillbilly mascot.

Maybe someday I'll be less snarly about it, less of a cluster of random life changing events, and not have two newborns on the way, and I'll get them to change our mascot to a nice looking, successful businessman, not a hick from the sticks.

Probably not...but it's worth a try!

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?


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.


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.


Wednesday, September 10, 2014


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…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.