Sunday, November 27, 2016

Now That You're Ten

Dear Josie,

You're now old enough to read this blog and understand its purpose. I am writing this note to you as I write on every birthday, but today, it feels bigger. A whole decade has passed since you burst into our life in a quick, easy delivery. Ten years have passed since that terrible snowstorm, just a day after you came home from the hospital. The days afterward, I would wake up with you and worry how in the world I would handle two kids. Two girls.

Ha.

I write these notes because now, obviously, we have more than just you and your sister, and because of that, I have fallen short in the memory making department. I'm not very good at writing things in baby books, scrapbooking or even printing off pictures.

Sorry about that.

So I write.

I remember like it was yesterday holding you, marveling at how small you were. I remember listening to you have a full conversation with your Dad at lunch as a toddler, already arguing about napping or something. I remember the look of wonder you had on your face when Grammy brought you to the hospital when your baby sister Amelia was born, and remember the way you waved good bye to Jack as you headed onto the school bus for the first time as a kindergarten student. You have been such a wonderful helper with the twins, guiding them and entertaining them when necessary. You have taken to the stage, learned to play an instrument, lead a 1000+ pound animal in the show ring, all the while, keeping us on our toes.

A lot.

You are, and always have been, fiercely independent. This served you well as a baby, just 20 months shy of your big sister. However, it has proven to be a little difficult in a big family. You like to be alone, singing at the top of your lungs or tumbling in a space way too small to tumble. You have a strong network of friends, and, from where I see it, you are a good friend.

Like any parent does, we worry about you.
We caution you to "use your powers for good," as you have many. We worry that you will have to navigate a world that is unpredictable and different from what we have tried to create in our own little family.
We worry that with your independence, confidence and intense emotions, life may seem overwhelming at times. For ten years, we have tried to allow you to soar, but have had the ultimate say on your adventures, protecting you from the "hard stuff" we can keep from you.
However, in the next ten years, we'll have to let you go and let you fly. That makes me excited and a little apprehensive, maybe it's because I still see you as a little curly haired toddler...the one who, when asked what you wanted for Christmas, answered, "Long hair and a boyfriend." But what that toddler and this big girl today have in common is that you know what you want and you will figure out a way to get it.

(Not the boyfriend yet, though!)

You are just one of those kids that you know something big is going to unfold in front of you, and for that, I'm excited for the next ten years. Your dad and I will be watching you, keeping you in check and helping you figure out how to use those skills. Whatever you do, wherever you go, I expect our Little Jos will do something BIG.

Happy birthday, my spunky ball of fire. You are a light in our life, and I can't wait to see where that light will lead you.

Love,
Mom












Sunday, October 9, 2016

Two

Dearest Mary and Caroline,

As I sit here in our office at the end of a really full day spent celebrating you, I am tired. I am grasping for words because I feel like the obvious doesn't need to be stated.

We are truly in love with you.

This is surprising because being a parent to two two year olds is daunting. I'm nervous about potty training, keeping my eyes on you, keeping you busy in a productive and not destructive way, figuring out how to manage all the other kids' activities while keeping you from trying to head up onto the stage/court/field, because you feel a part of everything the other ones do.

That makes me smile just thinking about that image.

It was just two short years ago that I was truly concerned about how you'd fit into our tight knit foursome of kids. I was afraid you'd get lost in the shuffle. I obviously didn't account for your sparkling and individual personalities in this mix. You don't let yourself be forgotten or left out. Both of you, each in your own way, have found the way to fit into our now tight group of six kiddos.

Mary, you are definitely the one with the most "leadership" skills. Your spunk is only rivaled by your older sister, Josie, making your opinions know with the best expressions: verbal and non-verbal. We love your heart for your little sister, protecting her when she needs space ("Stop it." being your go-to phrase.). I'm in awe by your budding vocabulary, your love of dollies and the "chicken" (kitchen). Your pigtailed hair-do reflects the just a tad on the smarty side personality that I have loved since it started to unfold. You're going to be fun as the years fly by.

Caroline. You are still our little puzzle, however, your pieces are falling together in such a beautiful and intricate way, and one that I can neither predict or control. You have freaked us out to no end from the moment you entered this earth, but in your set backs (like breathing...), you have had such great victories in the past six months. You decided walking would be fine, so instead of slowly working at it, you just did it. Talking is next. I hear you. I hear you working on your sounds. I hear you trying to mimic me and your sister. I see you working on your expressions. You are a beautiful, curly haired mystery that keeps us guessing, and will continue to do so, as the years progress.

Girls, I admit it. I'm tired. There are days that I think back to your first years and wonder how we did it. There's no tried and true plan or book we read or whatever. We just did it out of love: out of love for you, for your sisters and brother and for each other. Love gives you energy when you don't have an ounce left to play in the sandbox, paint another picture, even give another bath. Love is what I can point as I sit in the office on a Sunday night after hosting two parties today, dropping off at another sleepover, and needing to do my Bible study homework that I'm two weeks behind on. Because I love you, I write this tribute, like I will every year, so we can remember the little things from the day and year.

Thank you for this love, girls. Because you came into our lives, we have felt a deeper love because of the hard stuff.  You have given me a new life, a new path, a new set of priorities and goals, and it's because of the wacky way you fit into our big, loud, busy family.

Happy, happy birthday my sweet twins. May you have sweet dreams of cupcakes and Cozy Coupes tonight.

Love,
Mom









Tuesday, August 30, 2016

An Exceptional Life in Moderation

*Disclaimer: I realize that I made a sweeping post about how this blog had to be on hiatus. Some eat their feelings. I write mine. Lucky you.

My Grandma Mary lived 102 years on this Earth.

102 years.

In her years, she saw so much advancement. The highway that now cars zip past over 60 (or more) miles per hour, was once a dirt road where she and her sisters played tennis.

Lying in twin beds with my brother, she used to tell us stories of her getting a ride in the sleigh to church or school on winter days, pulled by a HORSE. A HORSE! The eight year old Emily freaked out at a HORSE taking Grandma to school. I was also the kid who had to be told what the window cranks in a car were. #firstworldkid

When a cousin of mine was trying to convince Grandma of the importance of the Internet and its impact on the world, Grandma answered simply, "Can you imagine something else making such an impact? Electricity."

Mic drop.

She headed to college during the Depression, wanting to be a school teacher. She did it bit by bit, coming home to teach in the country school alternately, saving money for the next semester's tuition.

She was a third grade teacher, most famously, in the local school district. While her world was small (never having lived any place for too many years but the home her father built when she was born), her reach was broad. When I moved back to the area and would reference her, there were so many former students who expressed their gratitude and love for Mrs. Shortness.

She was kind, understanding, level headed, smart, and soft spoken. Where I came from, I have no idea. However, this woman is exceptionally organized, one of my better qualities that must have come from her genetics. There are empty closets in her home. She has labeled everything. My girls each have a quilt from either Grandpa or Grandma's families. They all have a tiny white bag (that she sewed) with a note on a small piece of yellow legal paper explaining who made the quilt and sometimes for whom. No fluffy story, no long explanation. Just the important facts.

That's Grandma Mary.

She is an exceptional woman who lived an exceptional life, but exercising exceptional moderation.

She believed in exercise, working in her garden, walking the farm, playing sports as a young (and somewhat cavalier) lady. However, when I took up marathoning, she asked me if that particular distance was necessary. When I explained my reasons, she remarked, "Everything in moderation, Emily."

Duly noted.

When dinners were served at Grandma's (and by dinners, I mean lunch), it was an affair. A main dish followed by colorful sides. Always. Potatoes, fruit, veggies...a cheese and pickle tray. Her homemade rolls. Pie for dessert. However, in typical Grandma Mary manner, she always ate slowly. Not because she was overly chatty, just because she enjoyed small servings of all the dishes slowly. Pie was usually the dessert of choice, and if you were Grandma, you'd truly enjoy it because you had room. You ate everything in moderation.

Except ice cream.

And pop.

Those were the things she despised, but never made a stink about it, just said no thank you and moved on.

Oh these stories make me miss her. I am so lucky. Grandma was something special. She was so influential in my decisions. When I would do something ridiculous in college or even now make some smarty comment, I feel remorse when I think about what Grandma would feel if she knew about my actions.

She set an example that was good and a bar that is high. I'm hoping to achieve that.

There are so many more stories and happy times I could share, but I know that you all have memories of loved ones that are similar.

I will leave you all with this perspective. In a world where excess of stuff, loud voices, extreme opinions and craziness are celebrated, a life like Grandma's, one in moderation, is one that should be highlighted. This was a life that was lead in a way that the world should look to. I am so lucky to have had such an influence in my life, one that was shared in my children's life, and one that I will always cherish.

Thank you, Grandma Mary for teaching me to live a life in moderation, but having loved me in abundance for 38 years.
Grandma and Amelia at the first of their many shared birthday parties.

Grandma holding Amelia just after she was born. She drove to our house that day at age 95!

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

It's Not You; It's Me

Hey friends.
Remember me?
I'm Emily, your resident farm wife.

Hi there.

Well, it's been a summer of change. I know, shocker. We seem to love change around here!

Just to catch you up, at the end of the school year, Joe stepped out of his teaching role and walked back into farming. He is working for a farm as the head herdsman. While teaching will always be a passion for Joe, cattle raising as a profession trumps all others in his book. Well, almost all. I would like to think raising cows runs a close second next to helping raise our family. I'm sure that's true. ;)

But besides Joe starting back into farming, I have stepped into a full time working role. Yep. You read that right. I'm working. A real, paying job with deadlines and everything.
I know. I'm so excited!!! But, I have heard it all: you're so busy with your kids, why work? You'll have to balance so much, why work? Aren't you happy as a mom? Your kids will grow so fast, there's plenty of time to work.

Yes, I understand and appreciate and ROLL MY EYES at all the folks who think they understand our family dynamic.

I may be crazy.
I might be stressed at times.
I may be busy.

However, for the past five years, I have felt unrest. I have felt like I have more to offer. I felt like God gave me these talents, and I wasn't using them. I'm not saying that mothering isn't a super important and worthy job, there was just a little voice inside of me that kept nagging to be heard. I would also be remiss if I didn't mention that I felt sometimes that my soul was dying a slow death thanks to an overdose of grilled cheese, laundry and Daniel Tiger.

That's why I started this blog. It's why I podcast with Holly. It's why I accept speaking engagements.

I'm a worker, friends. I like working. I like challenges. I love the chase of balancing it all, working on a schedule. I thrive on deadlines and lists. Even in my at-home mom days, I made a list of things to do, kept my running mileage on my calendar, crossed things off I already had done. I like accomplishing things.

It's not that I'm not happy being just mom to my kids. There's a huge trend to slow down, enjoy life, figure out how to do less.

That's not in my nature.

So. Here we are.

Luckily, this position I accepted is a work-at-home opportunity. It's flexible. It works with my people connecting skills and is based in my home county. So far, so good.

But here's the deal, people. I may have to press pause now and again with my blog. I love this space. I love you especially my dear readers. I get a little emotional thinking about the friends I have made through this blog. I love the voice I have created and the stories that I have written are way more detailed than the empty baby books my last three children have. Thank goodness for this space!

I love the brand I have created, even if I STINK at marketing myself. I am proud that Confessions of a Farm Wife is mine. I am happy to be known as Emily the Farm Wife, even if "farm wife" is sometimes thought of negatively.

In reflecting upon the seven years I have written, I have pretty much laid it all out to you: the good times, the gross times, the sad times, the crazy times, the funny times. You have read my life like a book, only I still haven't really written one yet. YET. You have been with me through the births of three of my kids. You watched our house lift up off its foundation. You cried with us during the sickness and end of life of dear family members. Your words of kindness made the ick of walking away from farming less sad.

Lots of life changes have unfolded in this space, and the way you readers have supported my family, I am so, so thankful.

You will never know how grateful I am for this space. Often times, social media can get a bad rap. It can be fake. It can be judgmental. People use it to promote weird agendas. People lay out their lives in perfectly placed Instagram filtered ways. People edit. My life, however, is not perfect. There are lots of filters used, but it's generally to hide the fact that the wood floor underneath the cute child is so dirty, you can see where footprints have "cleaned" some of it.

Life is not perfect or pretty all the time, and yet from my view, it's just as beautiful if you keep everything as real as possible. I have tried to maintain this belief through this space. I have tried to always be true to myself, our story, our life on this platform. It's ironic I talk about organics in a smarty tone around here...I couldn't be any more organic of a blogger! I'm still on a blogspot platform. This is about as pure and simple of a blog following as you can get!

Because of this organic, true following, you readers gave me the confidence to step out of the realm of just mothering and agriculture. Your kind words and response to my writing, speaking, everything fueled my unrest in a good way. I knew there was more for me, and I feel like this new opportunity is a chance I had to take.

But with new chances, new roles, new opportunities, comes a time of transition. It's the end of summer here (CAN I GET AN AMEN??). The kids have not had too many changes thanks to loving in-home care babysitters who have allowed me to work quietly in my bedroom as they play and take them to the pool. However, as school starts and my deadlines come closer, I am sure that there will be stories to tell, but hardly any time to tell them!

So. If it feels like we're breaking up, we're not. We're just becoming "friends," It's not you; it's me. I need space to grow. I need to find out who I am...what other bad break up line can I drum up from my really crappy dating history?

Regardless of my frequency of posts, friends, I love you. Truly. I just need time to figure this all out. Harvest will be upon us soon, and with that will come the end of a season. Maybe by then I'll have this figured out. But for now, stay with me on Facebook and keep up with us on Instagram. Life will continue to march around here, just following a different set of marching orders.

Thank you again for your support. It's been really, really fun, and I can't wait to see the read the rest of this story.

xo,
Emily




Friday, June 10, 2016

You Are My Sunshine

Oh this song.

I have sung this song to all of our babies. Such a simple song, but one that all of them will share as a memory of our bedtime routine.

Seven years ago we were coming off of a difficult planting season. It was wet, wet, wet that spring, and we couldn't seem to catch a break of sun to finish up the bean planting. Funny thing is, this season was actually a precursor to a wet, wet, wet harvest.

Oh, the weather.

Anyway, on June 9th of 2009, I was truly glad. It was sunshiny. It was warm. My parents had just moved really, really close to us. We were on the brink of finishing planting, and I was about to pop with our third child.

And early the next morning, I did. Amelia Jane made her entrance at 2:20 AM on June 10th, the same day as my Grandma Mary's 95th birthday.

The sun shone bright that whole rest of the week and into the weekend. I remember being dropped off by Joe with two toddlers and a newborn so he could sidedress anhydrous. Welcome home, Mama! But, the sun was shining, and it was time to roll.

I remember watching my Grandma, just turned 95, rolling carefully into our driveway in her maroon Buick to be one of the first visitors. She drove the 15 mile trip because the sun was shining.

It is indicative of our Millie Jane. She is truly sunshine disguised as a little girl. There are moments that she is a little more cloudy, but those are quickly resolved. She is understanding and caring and kind.

And funny.

Oh so funny.

Just yesterday morning, she told me she was getting nervous about her birthday because she was starting a new chapter of her life. "Seven is a big step, Mom!"

Awesome.

This year's birthday celebration has been a bit tricky. She and Jack had to share a party due to family calendars filling up and new jobs starting. Her little cake that Grandma Mary generally provides at the joint birthday party was shared in the hospital, as our more elder of the birthday girls is not doing well.

Amelia didn't care. She happily shared her party with her brother this year, "because I share my birthday every year with Grandma."

Of course. Rays of sunshine work together and share the sky, so why wouldn't our little ray of sunshine do the same?

I say this with every birthday blog, but it bears repeating: I am lucky to be entrusted as this little girl's mother. She has taught me to shine despite the darkness. Even now, as we are a little sad that Grandma is struggling, but at 102, a new chapter is just part of the game. Nothing to be nervous about.

Nothing like turning seven.

So, to our little ray of sunshine, Amelia Jane, we love you. We cherish you. You are our sunshine.





Thursday, June 9, 2016

Deja Vu

Well, well, well...I'm back.

I have been dealing with some growing and learning pains with my blog.

I thought my story had been told enough.

I figured you had heard enough about food and farming and my family.

I figured all of you and the greater population had formed educated opinions, even though they may differ from mine, and that I could almost close up this shop.

And then, improper labeling strikes again.

In a very honest way. In a very loving and caring manner. In a very incorrect label.

Beef that is hormone free.

Can I talk to you about hormones?
No, men, you don't have to bow out. I'm talking about hormones in food. They are naturally occurring. Just as the mood shifts in this house when a hormonal surge happens (remember there are FIVE girls and ONE mama here? That's six potential walking balls of estrogen. Pray for Joe in about 5-15 years, or 50...either way.), food and animals and humans have these magical chemicals, yes CHEMICALS (natural chemicals, but that's the word used, so again, all you natural friends, deep breaths and keep reading) in them.

Naturally occurring.

No additions.

There have been additional hormones in things, foods, plants, etc., I'm sure. But today, I'm just talking about God-given hormones.

These are things we need not fear. God made them. God gave them to us.

Here's a handy graphic for your viewing pleasure:
source: bestfoodfacts.org


Soy flour, beans, peanuts, cabbage: those foods cannot help that they have TONS of naturally occurring hormones.
Cattle, same deal.
Beef will have hormones in it because in order to reproduce, a living thing (aka, a mama cow) must have a balance of hormones.

Science, friends!

While I don't think you should shoot up a bunch of hormones, I do believe that you should not freak out about naturally occurring hormones in your food.

This is something I thought I had made a mark on as far as discussing. This is something that as an advocate, writer, what-have-you, I thought we had made some headway on many folks.

No?

Dang it.

Here's the deal:
I believe in science. You do too, even if you're crunching an organic apple or using homemade laundry detergent.
Newsflash: you're reading this on the Internet.

Science again, friends!

But I also believe in our food production, especially if you're checking your sources (meaning, labels and where it's grown, produced, etc.). Be educated, but recognize who your teacher is and what they are looking out for. There are very good people in this world, and then there are ones who are experts in just yelling louder and marketing better than little ol' me who likes to write cute stories about my kids and cows sometimes.

Please believe your growers. Please trust your people who know their animals. Lest I remind you the percentage of family owned farms in our state. It's 94%. As in an A-, nearly 100...LOTS OF THEM.

Please question labels, even if they claim to promote health. There are misnomers on both sides, and from the production ag side, I promise you, I will rarely keep quiet. You'll know when something is wrong. I'm the queen of correcting things...righting wrongs...takin' care of business!

So, welcome back to my blog, friends. Does it seem oddly familiar to you as well?

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Our Boy

So Jack.

You're five.

Right now.

I was greeted this morning, as I came in from working out, birthday doughnuts in hand, by you with a, "Mom! I'm FIVE! Right now!"

Being five is going to be amazing. Being five means kindergarten and a big boy bike and a lunchbox. Being five means tying shoes and riding the bus and playing outside alone (with limits).

Being five is huge.

Right now.

But five years ago, I was just figuring out the sheer logistics of having a boy. It was different for sure: less fluff, more defense on the diaper change, less drama as toddlerhood set in. You were all boy in a sea of women.

We may consider you all boy, but you're our boy. That means all the stereotypical boy things are dealt with: unnecessary roughness, running-everywhere, and the everlasting flow of jokes regarding all bodily functions, parts and stinky cheese. But, what makes you YOU, is that after all the gross boy stuff, you're still the sweetest most imaginative dude around. You have gained independence this year, as we have allowed you to play outside alone when it was safe (read: limited equipment coming in and out of the driveway). While I may seem to just be inside, I'm really peeking out the window, listening to your running commentary on your adventures as you dig holes to China in the backyard, chase and catch frogs for pets (yippee!), and dig for worms ("Don't you know they're a frog's spaghetti, Mom?" Ummmm. no.).

You speak fluent Batman and Ninja Turtles, enjoy commenting on cows and crops, and are a little bit ornery here and there, but that keeps life interesting, I guess.

With being five, this ends the full timer status you have had with us. Maybe that's why I have loved this preschool year with you. I know it's my last. There are days that it feels exhausting to pitch a ball, chase a twin or two, and then answer the constant stream of questions regarding things from animal husbandry to why our hair is a color to why the grass grows. You have kept life interesting with a few "second chances" at school and some time outs and privileges revoked, but each oops is met accompanied with a "Mommy, you're so beautiful."

See?

Joe's boy.
This morning, with your clone

Daddy's clone, to be exact: friendly and social and welcoming. You're the kid that the classmates all tell their folks about. This makes me a little nervous now and again, but if you're going to be, be awesome, right?

And now you're five, my sweet boy.

Our boy.

Our only boy.

We will put you on the bus this fall. We will watch you as you embark on t-ball next summer. Lots of firsts with a five year old.

Today though, we will celebrate those first moments as a five year old with Oreos and a picnic lunch. A haircut this afternoon. Big time fun, I know, but that's what's awesome about being five. No big pageantry necessary, just time to explore and play and be together.

Right now.

So happy birthday, sweet boy, our boy. Right now, we couldn't love you any more.

Always loved by Big Sister Millie

And then, you were one!